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Calif. Department Gets Nimble New Response Vehicle

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- The Livermore-Pleasanton (Calif.) Fire Department has a new tool in its arsenal. It runs on batteries, weaves through throngs of people and gets medical care to victims when the scene is too narrow for standard emergency vehicles.

It s a golf cart. Not just any golf cart -- it s a customized, super-sized cart that s big enough to carry a person on a gurney but small enough to quickly wind through large groups of people.

We have a lot of events that are attended by a lot of the community, Livermore-Pleasanton spokeswoman Sabina Imrie said. There s the Christmas parade, the Fourth of July in Livermore s Robertson Park and many more.

The fire department provides emergency medical aid at large community events and until now had two options: Wait for a call and send a fire engine from a station and wait while people clear out of the way so it could pass or rent or borrow a similar cart from another department, Imrie said.

San Ramon Valley Fire and Alameda County Fire use similar carts, fire Capt. Ken Atkinson said. It turned out really well (for those departments).

The cart, which cost $30,000, was obtained through a grant and donations. The majority of the money, $19,000, came from the Fireman s Fund Insurance Company and UnionBanc Insurance Services Inc. The rest came from the Livermore Police Department s asset-seizure cash pool, Farmers Insurance, Wal-Mart and the California Refuse Removal Council.

It will be unveiled at a ceremony Wednesday.

The cart holds a full-size gurney and much of the equipment stored on a fire engine. It is street-legal and has a siren and lights.

Twenty-six mph is the top speed, firefighter Todd Rueppell said. It s battery-powered and runs on an electric motor.

But the point that the fire department is stressing is that the cart is not meant to simply be seen at public events, Imrie said.

The point is to get paramedics on scene right away with life-saving equipment instead of waiting for the engine company ... and then for the firefighters to get to the patient and unload all their equipment, she said. This will get them to the patient right away.

Reach Roman Gokhman at 925-847-2164 orrgokhman@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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