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Ambulance transplant

By Leesha Furse

THE first of the Air Force’s new ambulance fleet has arrived at RAAF Base Richmond. Thirty-three new ambulances will be delivered to the Air Force over the next 21 months.

Squadron Leader Robert Rush, of Air Force Headquarters, said 26 ambulances would be delivered during 2004-05 and an additional seven were expected to be delivered in 2005-06 as part of a project established by the Commercial Vehicle Program within the Land Systems Division of DMO.

Two additional ambulances, based on a Landcruiser chassis, would support activities at Butterworth. One-day training courses for driving training offi cers began on September 21 and will continue until early February 2005 at several bases.

The courses cover operation and basic maintenance of the vehicles. All medical staff will be trained on the new ambulances.

The training will include completing the newly-developed Defence Emergency Vehicle Course. Maintenance personnel from the expeditionary combat support squadrons will also be trained to support the ambulances during deployed operations.

The new ambulances are required because the current vehicles have reached their life of type and increasingly need maintenance.

“The vehicles should start to replace the current fl eet within operational service by the end of the year after medical staff have been trained and the Air Movements Training Development Unit (AMTDU) has certifi ed the ambulance as suitable for transportation on C-130H/J aircraft,” SQNLDR Rush said.

“Health Services Wing will be responsible for determining when the ambulances can assume ‘online’ status for expeditionary operations.

“The ambulances will serve two roles: providing medical support at Air Force establishments and providing medical support during expeditionary operations.

As such, they are being assigned to both the Area Health Services and the elements of Health Services Wing.

A single type has been selected to perform both roles so that all medical staff are familiar with the equipment that they may be required to use on deployment.

“The vehicles are larger than the current fl eet to enable the better provision of patient care while still fi tting within the confi nes of a C-130.”

SQNLDR Rush said the new ambulances would carry the same medical equipment as the current fl eet, although some improvements might result from initiatives undertaken as part of JP2060 – Deployable Medical Capability Project.

The vehicles will also be fi tted with equipment required for deployed operations such as radio mounts, weapon racks, storage space for webbing and armour.

One of the current ambulances will be kept at the RAAF Museum to recognise the efforts of Air Force medical staff on operations over the past few years, in particular East Timor.

Other current ambulances will be sold. SQNLDR Rush said the new ambulances would remain in service until they were replaced by tactical ambulances bought under Land 121 “which will hopefully enter service from 2009”.


LACW Vanessa Hill, AC James Godwin, ACW Ashley Coburn and AC Gary Pyle, medics from No. 3 Combat
Support Hospital at RAAF Base Richmond, inspect one of the new ambulances.

LACW Vanessa Hill, AC James Godwin, ACW Ashley Coburn and AC Gary Pyle, medics from No. 3 Combat Support Hospital at RAAF Base Richmond, inspect one of the new ambulances.

Photo by LAC Ben Dempster

Vehicle Details

  • Dimensions: 5.64m x 1.93m x 2.44m
  • Weight: 3500kg
  • Chassis: Mercedes 316 4x4 Sprinter (limited 4WD capability)
  • Top capacity: Can carry one patient and two medical attendants at sustained speed of more than 130km/h.
  • Produced by: Mader International, based in Penguin, Tasmania

 

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