New NHRMC EMS vehicle can provide comprehensive care in disasters

May 17, 2010
WILMINGTON – New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Medical Services has a new vehicle that can provide care and transport for up to 20 patients in the event of a disaster. The Major Incident Response Vehicle, or MIRV, is the latest addition to the fleet of vehicles operated by New Hanover Regional Medical Center EMS and is one of only six of its kind currently in North Carolina. Caring for victims of a major disaster at the scene and bringing them to the hospital for care can be one of the biggest challenges for emergency personnel. Evacuations of those who need medical care in advance of a large storm can also be problematic. In both cases, ambulances and transport vehicles with accompanying medical personnel are in high demand. “The addition of a larger transport vehicle will save time and help us care for more patients,” says Barbara Pasztor, vice president of emergency services at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. “Because this vehicle can carry up to 20 patients and 6 attendants, we will be able to more efficiently evacuate in the event of a disaster.” Purchased with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, the MIRV houses cardiac monitors, Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), a 20 Kilowatt generator and enough oxygen to last up to 48 hours. The MIRV is also equipped with radios that allow workers to communicate with every hospital in North Carolina, statewide EMS stations and statewide fire stations. The vehicle is also equipped with a wireless headset intercom system which allows healthcare providers to safely communicate with each other while proving patient care and relaying patient information to the hospital. The bus was custom-built by Sartin Services, Inc. of High Point, North Carolina, a family-owned business that has been building emergency vehicles for more than 20 years. After Hurricane Katrina, Ed Sartin, the founder and owner of Sartin Services, went to New Orleans with his son to see how he could help. It was after that trip that Ed came up with the stacked bunk design that was used in the MIRV. “We worked very closely with Sartin Services on the design of this vehicle,” says Steve McCann, logistics officer with New Hanover Regional Medical Center EMS. “We made several trips to High Point to collaborate on the design, layout and safety features on this bus. We are very pleased that the work could be done entirely in North Carolina.” In addition to the technology that equips the MIRV, many safety features were carefully planned into the design. Safety nets encase each bunk to ensure that patients are secure, extra padding was placed throughout the interior, a custom cabinet was built to secure all the equipment and rear- and side-view cameras were mounted on the outside of the bus to help with maneuvering. “We were able to look at the designs of other similar vehicles and build on some of their features to really ensure the highest possible level of patient safety and care,” McCann says. “Overall, I think this new vehicle will be extremely beneficial to the community.” New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Services Department, the network's pre-hospital care provider, is widely recognized for its superior level of care and was designated as North Carolina’s first model EMS system. It consists of NHRMC EMS, which operates the region’s paramedic service as well as VitaLink, a critical care transport system, mobile intensive care units and AirLink, an air ambulance service. Combined, these units operate 36 ground vehicles and 1 helicopter, employ approximately 150 medical personnel and responded to more than 50,000 calls in 2009.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center is the leading provider of quality and accessible health care in Southeastern North Carolina, delivering care to all in need, without the support of taxpayer dollars. The medical center takes seriously its responsibility as an economic engine for the community, creating more than 4,500 jobs directly and another 3,000 jobs indirectly. ###