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St John and NZFS announce prototype Fire Medical Vehicle

St John and NZFS announce prototype Fire Medical Vehicle ready for trial


A prototype dual purpose fire and medical response vehicle developed by the New Zealand Fire Service and St John is about to start a year of trials to test the concept.

The prototype is designed for use in rural and remote communities whose brigades provide a medical first response service.

After being put through its paces at the Fire Service National Training Centre in Rotorua this week, it will be trialled by the Diamond Harbour Volunteer Fire Brigade in Canterbury for the next four months.

Fire Service Chief Executive and National Commander Paul Baxter says, “The fire medical vehicle is not an ambulance. What it will do is improve the patient experience. It will allow firefighters to get patients up off the ground and into a safer, more clinical environment while early treatment is being provided until an ambulance arrives. At the same time, we have developed a vehicle that can provide good fire fighting capability and carry the usual gear needed for rescues and other emergencies.”

During the trial, the FMV will replace each brigade’s appliance. This will allow everyone to fully assess whether it meets the needs of the communities, the Fire Service and St John.

After its stint with Diamond Harbour, the FMV will be transferred to nearby Little River Brigade before going to the North Island in April for the Tolaga Bay Brigade near Gisborne to trial it.

The three brigades that have volunteered to trial the prototype are among 37 volunteer brigades around the country who provide the first medical response within their communities. These brigades are despatched to a wide variety of medical emergencies. They respond because either they are closer to the emergency or there is no ambulance stationed in the community.

“This initiative is a good example of emergency services working together to further benefit New Zealand communities and patient outcomes,” says St John Operations Director Michael Brooke. “The aim is to improve the emergency medical response in those rural and remote communities where the Fire Service has a resource that is closer than the nearest ambulance station.”

All firefighters taking part in the trial will receive specific training on the prototype and go through St John training to update or add to their first aid skills.

The FMV took the NZFS three years to design and build, working in close collaboration with St John. It has a two-person cab at the front; pump and fire equipment in the middle; and a clinical space with a stretcher and two further crew members in the rear.

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