Ambulances & Vehicle Ops, Equipment & Gear, Training

Pumper Ambulance Model Improves Patient Care

Issue 10 and Volume 37.

When Joe Pozzo was hired as the new chief of the Volusia County (Fla.) Department of Public Protection (VCDPP) in June 2010, he was given a mandate: Build and create a new model of service for Volusia County.

“We had no funding to keep going with a model that used traditional engines, trucks and squads,” Pozzo says. “We had to come up with innovative technology and vehicles to get the job done.”

Like many other departments around the country, the VCDPP needed to identify cost savings to make up for falling revenues. And that meant changes to the department’s fleet. “We had to come up with a way to reduce our fleet and cut costs and still provide the same services to our population,” Pozzo says.

Pumper/Ambulance Model
After a lot of brainstorming, the VCDPP came up with the idea for a pumper/ambulance that could provide more efficient firefighting capabilities and EMS transport in the rural areas of the county. “Some people in the organization doubted the idea, but we thought the concept was thinking outside of the box,” Pozzo says.

“When we began the design process, we decided that for it to work, it had to be as close to a traditional fire engine body as possible, with a traditional ambulance body added.”

It took a while to work through the exact specs that would allow the vehicle to serve both firefighting and EMS needs efficiently. To start, the VCDPP contacted Ten-8 Fire Equipment, the local dealer for Braun, which manufactures the Patriot line of vehicles. “We looked at a Patriot that was recently delivered to the West Palm Beach Airport,” Pozzo says. “However, the airport unit had limited fire-suppression capabilities. We wanted a custom fire truck cab with an ambulance body.”

After working with the salespeople and engineers at Ten-8 and Braun, the department settled on a limited water tank with a compressed air foam system (CAFS).

“We needed to expand the water capability as much as possible since the vehicle would be first-out in some areas, providing firefighting capabilities as well as EMS,” Pozzo says.

The VCDPP contracted with Waterous to design and build the pump module, which was connected to a 300-gallon water tank and a 30-gallon foam tank. In addition, Braun raised the height of the ambulance box.

The units are set up with two crosslays of 1¾” hose and a dead load of 2½” hose for a supply line if needed and they carry the new Hurst E-Draulic cutters and rams. For future units, the department will engineer a rear compartment with stronger shelving to hold 300–400 feet of 3” supply line.

“Braun and Ten-8 were great to work with,” Pozzo says. “They listened to our ideas and worked together with us to make this new concept work for us and the residents of the county.”

The four pumper/ambulances are rotated in the high-volume rural areas of the county; they don’t have permanent stations. Pozzo stresses that the set-up is working well. “We would like to order an additional unit this year,” he says.

Broward Sheriff’s (Fla.) Office Department of Fire Rescue
Most U.S. EMS and fire service leaders are familiar with the various target hazards that they have in their respective jurisdictions. Some have adapted various standard operating procedures (SOPs) and purchased firefighting apparatus that gets the job done for their communities. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue, located in south Florida, is no exception.

When you hear the name Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue (BSO DFR), you may get the impression that this department operates as a public safety organization with police officers operating in dual roles as firefighters—but that’s a misconception.

The BSO DFR originated in October 2003 when all operational and administrative responsibilities were transferred from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The department’s more than 700 personnel provide fire suppression, fire protection, EMS and educational programs for most unincorporated areas of Broward County and to the municipalities of Weston, Pembroke Park, Cooper City, Lauderdale Lakes, Dania Beach and Deerfield Beach through contract agreements. Additionally, the department serves Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades.

A Unique Rig
Recently, the department purchased a vehicle designed for an area of the county with diverse operational needs: an engine stationed in an area that regionally services the Florida Everglades, a main thoroughfare known as Alligator Alley.

“We have one station located midway on this thoroughfare that services the eastern portion of this heavily traveled main highway,” says BSO DFR Chief Neal de Jesus. “Since this is pretty much a rural area and EMS response from the next station is a great distance away, we decided to design an engine that could be used for fire suppression as well as EMS response—if we can’t get another ambulance in a timely manner or launch Air Rescue, we can use this engine to transport.”

The majority of the calls in this area are single-vehicle rollovers with multiple victims, so the vehicle is designed with a longer wheelbase than a standard engine. Although it probably couldn’t be used easily in another urban setting, on a long stretch of highway, the turning radius isn’t a problem.

“The local dealer, Ten-8 Fire Equipment, and the Pierce engineers who helped us design this vehicle, were great to deal with,” de Jesus says. “The rear of the cab is used for EMS transport. It is roomy and has a climate-controlled area for patient treatment. We chose the Velocity chassis because of the added room in the cab, front and rear, as well as having a greater amount of compartment space. It has really worked out well for us so far.”

Chief de Jesus and his apparatus committee painstakingly worked out every detail on both vehicles to make them work for the department—something you should be doing when you design any new vehicle.

Although your budget might not be as large as some departments’ budgets, you can take this into consideration when you spec out your next ambulance. If you need to work on a commercial chassis instead of a custom unit, then design around that concept. Just make sure the dealer and manufacturer you choose are on the same page.