Redesigned ambulances to hit Austin streets

The exterior of the newly designed ambulance (ATCEMS)
The exterior of the newly designed ambulance (ATCEMS)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County EMS has newly redesigned ambulances providing safer rides to Austinites.

The new and older ambulances look similar, but safety is in the detail.

“As we nose out into traffic, we get those lights visible sooner,” says Captain Darren Noak, with Austin-Travis County EMS.

More flashing lights provide 360-degree visibility. It’s just one of the extra features on seven new ambulances coming to ATCEMS.

“[It will] better alert drivers and bystanders around us while we’re responding,” explains Commander Mike Benavides.

Fender cameras are also new to increase safety during lane changes and emergency responses. They allow the driver of the ambulance to see deeper into their blind spots.

“This has a lap and shoulder belt combination,” says Captain Noak, showing us inside the new ambulance.

The old ambulance only has a lap belt. The new vehicle does not have a bench seat for the medic, like the old ambulance. “It’s even more hazardous when you’re in the back attending to a patient,” explains Commander Benavides. “If you don’t have any kind of security on you, as far as being able to sit down and brace yourself.”

A track system allows the medic’s seat to pivot and slide, so they can access anything they need while staying buckled. And a new suspension system gives patients a smoother ride.

A total of five city units and two county units have been added to the fleet of ambulances. The funding was approved in November 2015 and after some additional equipment is added the ambulances will hit the roads in three weeks.

The new units are built by Road Rescue on a Dodge 4500 RAM chassis. Agencies, including Homeland Security, have already implemented some of the design features of the Austin-area ambulances.

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