BRADENTON, Fla.— Manatee County EMS has transformed a public bus into an ambulance designed to treat more than a dozen patients at a time.
"The AmbuBus is a very popular concept in fire departments in the pre-hospital realm and we have been waiting to secure one for some time," said Manatee County EMS District Chief Jason Evans.
The mass casualty vehicle known as RAPTOR can respond to vehicle crashes, mass shootings or natural disasters.
"If there is a natural disaster like a hurricane or a tornado, we send strike teams to those portions of the state or portions of the country impacted by a natural disaster and this bus would be part of that deployment," said Evans.
RAPTOR stands for "Rapid Activation Patient Treatment or Rehab."
Manatee County EMS District Chief Jason Evans showed fire chiefs and commissioners the vehicle at a countywide meeting on Monday.
Mass casualty vehicles are usually very expensive, but Manatee County EMS created one for about $32,000. The county donated the public bus and the state health department donated some of the equipment.
"We can load a large number of patients in here and treat them quickly or transport them to the hospital using this vehicle or having a secondary means of transport like a helicopter or another ambulance," said Evans.
Manatee County EMS most recently used RAPTOR at the Skyway 10k in March in case runners suffered from heat exhaustion. It can also be used at fires to help firefighters when they need a break.
"So we can cool them down and monitor their vital signs, make sure they're ready to get back in the fight. It allows us to rehab a large number of firefighters at one time," said Evans.
Manatee County EMS is working on getting a second vehicle in the mix within the next few months.
"It is a multi-functional vehicle and the uses that it has are endless," said Evans.