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Fire Dept. Eyes Ambulance-Like Bus, Could Hold 12

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Fire Department is moving to purchase its first-ever "critical care response bus" capable of transporting large numbers of patients in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

The groundbreaking purchase got rolling this week with a "request for quotations" due back May 15. It represents a dramatic upgrade in the Fire Department's ability to respond to major emergencies and could enhance Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the vehicle would be purchased with Homeland Security funds to transport a dozen patients at once.

"Let's say you have a mass-casualty incident. Instead of having to round up ambulances from all over the city, you can send this one vehicle and initiate mass care without stressing the rest of the EMS system," he said.

"And if there was a mass transport caused by the evacuation of a hospital or nursing home, we could make a few trips with the bus, instead of a lot of trips with a lot of ambulances."

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