Virginia Beach, VA (September 3, 2013) – Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital is fielding the first hospital-based ambulance bus in Hampton Roads, equipped for mass casualty evacuations. The former school bus is outfitted with an AmbuBus system that accommodates up to 18 stretcher patients or 25 patients in wheelchairs or walking.
"This is one of those assets that you hope you never need," says Chris Roberts, RN, Emergency Department manager at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and one of the licensed drivers. "But if a disaster requires us to move a lot of patients at once, this bus will be an essential tool."
The hospital auxiliary donated $6,000 to purchase the 1991 International bus. A grant through the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Medical Response System (HRMMRS) paid for the AmbuBus interior system, air conditioning, upgraded electrics, a boarding ramp and other needs for a mass casualty ambulance, including a siren and flashing red strobe lights.
"This looks a lot like the buses the military uses to transport wounded personnel," Roberts continues. "It’s a flexible system depending on the number of patients and whether they can sit up in a seat."
The ambulance bus will serve Sentara Healthcare hospital patients and double as a regional asset, should other hospitals need evacuation assistance.
"When a disaster hits, we all work together," Roberts says. "The hospitals in Hampton Roads hold joint disaster drills with our tents and other equipment," he adds, "so we can set up quickly and help each other in a crisis."
The ambulance bus had its first use over Labor Day weekend, ferrying clinical staff to the Sentara Mobile ER at the Virginia Beach oceanfront for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. The bus will be housed at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
HRMMRS-Hampton Roads Metropolitan Medical Response System
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