MANKATO — A first-of-its-kind ambulance that will keep its occupants safer is hitting the streets in the Mankato area.
Mayo Clinic Ambulance debuted a new ambulance Monday that has a host of interior safety improvements.
“It’s state of the art, to say the least,” John Harding, Mayo Clinic Ambulance assistant supervisor, said after chaplains blessed the rig at the downtown Mankato station.
A group of paramedics and other Mayo staff worked with an ambulance manufacturer to custom-design a new patient care cab.
“It’s a big deal. It’s one of a kind,” said Chad Schmitz, Mayo Clinic Ambulance operations supervisor.
A key upgrade: Most items are now within reach of a secured, seated EMT or paramedic.
Key medical supplies, along with a computer, radio and other commonly used equipment have been relocated in proximity to a new swiveling seat for the care provider.
“I can stay belted the entire time I’m caring for a patient,” Harding said.
In other ambulances, the care provider must often unbuckle their seat belt and stand up or move to another seat to access equipment needed, Harding and Schmitz said.
The EMTs and paramedics also have other reasons to worry less about their safety if their driver needs to make a sudden stop or in the rare event of a crash.
New indicator lights tell the Mayo caregiver in the back when their driver is about to turn or stop.
All equipment also is now firmly secured in its place when not in use.
“If we got into an accident, that could be a missile flying at you,” Schmitz said pointing to a heart monitor machine that now has a countertop docking station.
Other upgrades include a new exterior locking system and a new heating and cooling system that operates even when the engine isn’t running.
A lift for the rig’s large oxygen tank also was added after a few paramedics and EMTs hurt themselves lifting the heavy tank manually.
More driver tracking technology also has been added to provide drivers with more data about their driving conduct.
All of Mayo’s new ambulances will have the new features going forward. Mankato got the first one because it was next on the replacement schedule, said Kris Keltgen, Mayo Clinic Ambulance operations manager.
About a dozen more new ambulances will debut across Mayo Clinic Ambulance’s service area this winter, Keltgen said. Mayo Clinic provides ground ambulance service for 11 communities in Minnesota and four in Wisconsin.