By Alan M. Petrillo
The Normal (IL) Fire Department made a transition from Type 3 to Type 1 ambulances in 2012, and when it came time to replace one of the Type 1 rigs, it selected a committee of firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, to determine any needed updates to the design of the rig.
Doug Barnett, past chief of Normal, says the design committee took a close look at its current Type 1 ambulances and determined what worked well and what could be improved. The committee wanted more action area workspace, and to move the traditional CPR seat rearward to afford more work area, as well as allowing the provider to be in a better location on the patient’s right side, Barnett says.
“Our group spent a lot of time deciding if a curbside door forward design would help our operations, but in the end, we stuck with the traditional mid-box entry door on the curb side that also allows for a full-length bench seat,” Barnett points out. “Our staff are dual-role firefighters and medics, so exterior compartments for turnout gear and SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus) were a must.”
Andrew Foster, vice president of Foster Coach, who sold the Horton Type 1 to Normal, says Horton Emergency Vehicles was able to satisfy Normal’s needs with a Horton 623 pass-through model that has a 173-inch patient box, one of the longest Horton makes.
“The department also put a strong emphasis on safety of the staff and the patient,” Foster points out. “Their new Type 1 has the Horton Occupant Protection System (HOPS) that includes four-point detachable Per4max seat belts that allow for shoulder and lap belt application, progressive resistant cushions similar to a motorcycle helmet that allow the head not to bottom out on the cushion, and three roll protection air bags, two tube style to prevent the upper body and head from moving under the cabinets, and an air curtain in the action area.”
Dave Marshall, Horton’s director of sales, adds that the Normal Type 1 ambulance built on a Ford F-550 4×4 chassis also has Horton’s Vibration Isolation Technology System (VI Tech Mount), where the body mounts are twice the size on the mounting pucks, held in place by three bolts instead of one, to give a better ride and a safer mounting system. He says Horton uses six different layers of insulation in the floor of the patient box, makes all cabinets from 090 aluminum that’s fully insulated, and coats all cabinet interiors and electrical panels with Agion, an antimicrobial coating that resists bloodborne pathogens.
Marshall points out that Normal’s Type 1 is wired for a Stryker PowerLOAD cot system, has a Federal backup camera, red tactical LED strip lighting above the street side and curb side cabinets, a ducted air conditioning system through the street side cabinets, an IV warmer, an infant seat anchor system on the squad bench, electronic privacy windows, and a Federal Micropulse Light Eagle LED light system across the top of the back of the box that functions as a traffic advisor.
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.