By Alan M. Petrillo
Upper Township (NJ) Division of EMS has been a longtime customer of VCI Emergency Vehicle Specialists, dealers for Horton Emergency Vehicles, and has run Horton ambulances for more than 30 years. So when the need arose to replace one of its rigs, it turned to VCI and Horton for a new ambulance.
“Our number one priority is the safety of our staff and patients in our ambulances,” says Melissa Coker, Upper Township EMS’s acting chief. “The Horton Occupant Protection System (HOPS) with its airbags and four-point seatbelt system, along with Horton’s 360-degree-view camera system, were a major draw for us.” She notes that Upper Township switched from a Kenworth chassis ambulance to the Type 1 Ford F-550 4×4 chassis for the new rig. “Our staff prefers the Ford F-550 because it’s easier to drive and stop,” she adds.
David DiGangi, the salesman at VCI who sold the rig to Upper Township EMS, says HOPS was developed after years of front impact and rollover testing by Horton. “HOPS is a combination of advanced airbag protection, head strike dissipation, and occupant restraint devices,” DiGangi points out. “HOPS uses two types of airbag deployment, multi-density head protection, and a four-point seatbelt system to lessen the severity of rollover crashes.”
DiGangi notes that the new Upper Township EMS rig has a Liquid Spring hydraulic rear suspension and uses Horton’s Vi-Tech mounting system that replaces typical box-to-chassis mounting with a system that isolates road vibration and noise. “Using several layers of aluminum and a neoprene elastomer dampener, the Vi-Tech system is mounted outside of the main frame, which allows crews to better communicate and tend to patients by delivering less distraction and background interference that is typically beyond their control,” he says. “The new rig also has Horton’s sound-proofing acoustic enhancement package, as well as electronic privacy windows for the side and rear doors in the patient module.”
He says the ambulance’s grab rails throughout the vehicle are knurled for a better grip and protected against contamination by an antimicrobial agent. The ambulance has a Cool-Tech 100,000-British thermal units (BTU) air conditioning condenser on the front of the box, DiGangi points out, that on a high-temperature/humidity day can cool the interior of the box down in nine minutes, as opposed to the typical 21 minutes for standard systems. The Cool-Tech unit also has a solar panel that trickle charges the chassis’ 12-volt battery system.
Inside the box, Horton installed a Black Sierra USSC high-back bucket attendant’s seat with an integral child safety seat protected by tubular and head curtain airbags at the front of the module, a tubular airbag-protected CPR seat that has angled upper cabinets fore and aft of the seat on the road side of the box, and a squad bench for three people on the curb side of the module. All seats are protected by four-point seatbelt harnesses.
DiGangi says that the new Upper Township EMS Type 1 has a rolled marker light traffic advisor, LED strip lighting in the compartments, Whelen M7 series LED lights with red/white light split behind clear lenses, Whelen M9 series LED clear lens lights on front face of the module, a Whelen M6 series LED light centered on rear face of the body above rear doors with an amber/clear lens, and four Whelen M9 series LED scene lights.
Coker points out that Upper Township EMS staff especially like the Horton 360™ camera system installed on the rig. The system provides an aerial view of the ambulance’s surroundings that is accessible from the driver’s seat, she says, which helps ensure both crew and bystander safety. The system is customizable to allow extra inputs for an ambulance video feed, as well as patient area cameras.”
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.