Jacksonville, Fla., hospital unveils city's largest trauma ambulance
The UF Health Jacksonville ambulance has space for nine medical staff, two patients and the equipment needed to quickly treat trauma victims
The Florida Times-Union
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville's first trauma program has added something big to its arsenal of lifesaving equipment.
In fact, there's two of them — UF Health Jacksonville ambulances capable of handling two critically injured patients when its TraumaOne helicopters can't fly to a scene or a regular unit is busy.
The main one is billed as the largest ambulance in the city and specifically tailored to trauma patients like the ones airlifted by the hospital's three trauma helicopters. The other is a backup.
Unveiled Thursday morning at the hospital's emergency room entrance at 655 W. Eigth St., the huge diesel ambulance dwarfed the fire department rescue units and private ambulances at the ER. That's what UF Health wanted — space to handle trauma patient care when needed fast, TraumaOne flight services program manager Tony Hayes said.
"In order to provide critical care, you have to have space," he said. "We didn't want a conventional ambulance box since we felt it just didn't have enough space. We do critical care in the aircraft at a fast pace and get to the space we need to. These will be longer transports."
UF Health Jacksonville's TraumaOne program began in 1983 when the facility was known as University Hospital. It was the first trauma program in the state and is still the only adult and pediatric Level I trauma program in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, hospital officials said.
It has trauma surgeons, nurses, paramedics and others trained to care for trauma patients on-site 24 hours a day, using its three air ambulances to quickly transport victims of fires, crashes and other incidents to its Springfield facility.
Now comes the TraumaOne ambulance, bigger than the familiar red Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department rescue units and designed to handle seriously injured patients. One of Jacksonville's private medical transport services, Century Ambulance, is collaborating on the project that got a yell of "Welcome to the family" from one trauma unit staff member as it was unveiled.
The ambulance is 30 feet long, almost twice the length of a standard fire department rescue unit. Built atop a Freightliner commercial diesel truck chassis, its crew cab has room for four medical staff, with room for two patients and five more medical staff in the custom-built, 9.5-foot-tall ambulance box behind. The ambulance has onboard telemetry to send medical information to UF Health, as well as an onboard generator for when it has to stay at a trauma scene.
It will be used when a helicopter can't fly or a trauma care team is needed and a regular rescue unit doesn't have the room. Plus, the bigger ambulance can also carry more equipment and staff if needed.
"There are times the aircraft can't fly, or it is local and the aircraft isn't warranted to fly because of distance," Hayes said. "... This is to get those patients that hospitals have and bring them back in a timely manner, to get them to care faster so they are not waiting for that ground transport from those other private agencies and the city."
(c)2021 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)