FARMINGTON — Residents of Farmington can rest a little easier knowing if they needed an ambulance service, their city has some of the best equipment available to the public.
The Farmington Fire Department recently purchased a brand-new, top-of-the-line ambulance that went into service Monday, Jan. 14.
Ambulance 71, one of four ambulances in use by the FFD, is a redesigned emergency medical vehicle that was made specifically with the safety of the patients and medics in mind, according to FFD Chief Guido Smith.
Smith said that his department replaces an ambulance every five or six years, but when the opportunity arose to purchase the redesigned model, he jumped at the chance. He said it’s the first of its kind and there are only a few others like it in the state.
The advancements made in creating Ambulance 71 are based on national data regarding how first responders are injured in the line of duty. One feature now available in the new ambulance is a seatbelt system that allows EMTs to get up from their chair and move in the cabin, all while still wearing their seatbelt in the case of a crash.
In a typical ambulance, one side of the vehicle is a bench. In this new model, there are three seats with all pointed directly toward the gurney in the center of the vehicle.
According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association, between 1996 and 2012 the most common cause of injuries to medics was due to collisions. Advances in safety measures like the Ambulance 71’s seatbelt system is just one of the many features of the vehicle’s design.
Inside the ambulance a LUCAS 3 Chest Compression System is also found. The device can be placed around someone’s chest and automatically does compressions, which eliminates the need for a medic to stand over the patient. The purpose of the device is to provide life-saving measures via machine, and to allow a first responder to remain strapped in instead of them having to stand and conduct the chest compressions while the vehicle is in motion.
Smith says advances like these can reduce many of the risks that firefighters and EMS workers face on a constant basis. At the FFD, all of the 32 full- and part-time workers are trained as firefighters and medics, Smith said.
While his first responders obviously work in a hazardous environment, Smith said members of the FFD also have a number of heavy objects to lift while doing their jobs, which creates even more potential issues.
With Ambulance 71, some of those issues are a thing of the past.
One new feature is a hydraulic and electric system that automatically lowers and raises a gurney into the ambulance, reducing some heavy lifting for first responders. The system can support over 700 pounds, Smith said, making it easy for medics to help just about anyone get into the ambulance. The new ambulance also makes it easier for firefighters to access oxygen tanks if needed. Before, first responders had to lift the full weight of the tanks out of a compartment of their vehicle. With the new ambulance, only a lever is needed to drop an oxygen tank to the ground for use.
Smith said the model of the ambulance is still a new concept, and was more expensive than a regular ambulance. A typical ambulance can cost up to $200,000, Smith said. The city uses a revenue program to help purchase new ambulances whenever the time comes to replace one of their vehicles.
Smith added that any good public safety agency will always be on the lookout for opportunities to get the most advanced and up-to-date equipment on the market, and his department is excited to have this new version of ambulance to serve the public.
He said even though the ambulance hasn’t changed much in recent years, it’s still important for the public to be aware that local departments are still looking to advance themselves in whatever ways possible.