Safety on the move

Safety on the move

The St. Charles County Ambulance District adds two major vehicles to their fleet to better respond to major incidents in the St. Louis region

By Brett Auten

The St. Charles County Paramedics have doubled down on disaster preparedness with two new valuable assets at their disposal. A 22-passenger AmbuBus and a multi-functional Major Incident Response Unit have been added to the stockpile in the event of a large-scale incidents. Both vehicles are fully outfitted and ready to respond to incidents in the St. Louis region and beyond. The Major Incident Response Unit utilizes a recreational vehicle platform with slide-out walls to provide four patient care areas, providing a high degree versatility.

Jeremey Hollrah is the St. Charles County Ambulance District Deputy Chief of Special Operations & Logistics. Hollrah, 36, is in his 14th year with SCCAD. The lifelong St. Charles resident said the RV has been used in two Hazmat incidents already. Not quite an emergency room on wheels, the Major Incident Response Unit acts as a safe haven for first responders who are on duty at a major incident.

“It will be a shelter,” Hollrah said. “It has several special features to it. At its most basic, we can check their vital signs and get a basic assessment.”

Hollrah said the unit can be used as a mobile clinic.

“The setup gives our team an area out of the elements to safely provide rehab and medical surveillance for our colleagues before placing them back into action,” he said. “It’s a resource for mass casualty incidents, and provide rehabilitation care for first responders on extended emergency scenes such as multiple-alarm fires and Hazmat situations.”

Used in situations where there are multiple patients requiring transport, the AmbuBus is stocked with trauma and airway supplies, and can be outfitted with additional equipment depending on the specific needs of the incident.

The bus is capable of carrying 12 patients on stretchers with an additional 10 seating positions. Examples of incidents where the unit may be utilized would be a serious collision involving a school bus, or evacuation of a hospital or long-term care facility following a serious weather event.

“The bus used for the project was lightly used by the United States Air Force, and was acquired by SCCAD late last year,” Jim Fingerhut, SCCAD Deputy Chief, said.

The AmbuBus conversion kit was purchased via a grant from the St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS),” said Jim Fingerhut, SCCAD Deputy Chief and Co-Chair of the STARRS EMS Committee.

Though they will be housed in St. Charles County, the AmbuBus and Major Incident Unit are available for incidents that occur throughout the St. Louis region and beyond thanks to mutual aid agreements already in place. SCCAD is an active participant in regional disaster planning and has sent resources to numerous regional, state and federal disaster situations, including the Joplin tornado and Hurricane Harvey.

“It is good to be a team player in a time of need,” Hollrah said. “It also makes our national response stronger.”