By Alan M. Petrillo
Rincon Valley (AZ) Fire District responds to emergency medical services (EMS) calls in a 249-square mile ambulance district in southern Arizona, south of the Rincon Mountains and east of Tucson. With a growing population and expanding number of residences, the district knew it needed to add an ambulance to be able to better respond to the district’s medical needs.
“We’re an emerging suburban department on the outskirts of Tucson,” says Jayme Kahle, Rincon Valley’s chief. “We cover the unincorporated community of Vail that is rapidly growing at the rate of 15 houses a week. Our call volume has increased 18 percent over 2020, and our transport calls have increased 12 percent.”
Kahle notes that the district is looking at several new subdivisions set to start building, including one that will have 3,900 homes in it when completed. “We also have a lot of ranch land to cover, as well as a big section of Interstate 10,” he says. “We cover all that territory of 16,220 residents from two stations, with 47 paid full-time firefighters/EMTs/paramedics and four support staff.”
The new Wheeled Coach Type 1 ambulance that Rincon Valley got is on a Dodge 4500 four-wheel-drive diesel powered chassis and cab with a Liquid Spring rear suspension that Kahle says, “handles very nicely, and we are able to put it in comfort mode for transport to give patients a smooth, comfortable ride.”
Richard Kelsey, salesman for Emergency Vehicle Group, who sold the ambulance to Rincon Valley, says the Wheeled Coach Type 1 has a patient module that’s 153-inches long, 95-inches wide and 67-inches high, a Cool Bar 12-volt DC and 110-volt AC combination air conditioning compressor system, a Federal Signal Opticom® low profile LED emitter encoding signal system, Whelen 900 series LED emergency and scene lighting with Whelen Pioneer LED scene lights recessed below the Cool Bar, Whelen 500 series LED lighting over each wheel well, and Whelen 600 series brake/tail/turn lighting.
Kahle points out that the 2021 Wheeled Coach ambulance the district just received is identical in body and style to a Wheeled Coach Type 1 ambulance it bought in 2018. “The difference is that we had been using Stryker MX-Pro manual cots in our ambulances, but with this new Wheeled Coach ambulance, we had them install a Ferno Power X1 cot,” he says. Kahle adds that all of Rincon Valley’s ambulances carry firefighter structural turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), as well as basic forcible entry tools.
The interior of the rig has an attendant seat with a child seat on a box base, additional cabinetry in place of a CPR seat on the left side of the patient module, and a squad bench on the right side with two seating positions, and an additional action storage area at the head of the bench. All seats are protected by REV’s Per4max four-point harness system.
Rincon Valley’s other apparatus include a 2018 E-ONE Typhoon Type 1 pumper, a 2008 Pierce Type 1 PUC pumper, a KME Type 3 wildland engine, a 2005 Pierce Manufacturing 2,600-gallon tender (tanker), a 2012 Pierce heavy wet rescue with a 250-gpm pump; and 2018 Wheeled Coach, 2015 Ford-chassis Wheeled Coach, and 2012 Med Tech ambulances.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Ariz.-based journalist, the author of three novels and five non-fiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including the position of chief.