The U.S. Army is raving about the three new Patient Evacuation Vehicles (PEV) that are being used to transport Wounded Warriors returning from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom from the runways of Andrews Air Force Base to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, commander of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said the new PEVs afford patients a more comfortable ride than the Blue Bird buses that were being used. The size of the PEVs allows staffing by Critical Care Air Transport teams capable of transforming the PEV into a mobile intensive care unit.
"The team is experienced in the care of critically ill or wounded patients with multiple-system trauma, shock, burns, respiratory failure, multiple organ failure or other life-threatening complications," Hawley-Bowland said. "This capability can save countless lives during the ride from Andrews to WRAMC."
The first PEV was delivered in June. The $510,500 vehicle, produced by General Truck Body Manufacturing Co in Houston, can transport 16 non-ambulatory or 12 ambulatory patients, plus the Critical Care Air Transport teams. Maj. Terri Holloway-Petty, officer-in-charge of the Air Evacuation (AIRVAC) nursing section, said the PEVs give the AIRVAC team more room to work and technology built in gives other advantages.
"We have a lot of things already built into the walls which we didn't have with our other vehicles," Holloway-Petty said. "We have our oxygen and suction, lighting, electricity -- all things we can use with equipment the soldiers bring back with them. They have a long flight (from Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany) and sometimes we may need to plug things in and do other things with them, so having the extra capabilities helps out a lot."
The new vehicles are 40-feet long and eight-and-a-half-feet wide, and have a GVW of 52,000 pounds.
The PEV is based upon a modified tractor chassis equipped with a full air-ride suspension and an on-the-fly hydraulic PTO system. The vehicle is equipped with a host of operator controls and features, including radio communications and NFPA compliant emergency lighting and siren systems.
General Body designed and integrated their custom body solution onto the tractor chassis, creating a robust clinical environment for both the patients and medical team. The body includes a special walk-through feature that provides unobstructed access to the driver’s cab from the patient area and a custom rear entrance ramp which facilitates clear and safe handling of litter-borne critical care patients.
The sub-systems include redundant & intelligent electrical power generation and distribution systems, integrated heating and cooling systems, medical grade oxygen, air, suction delivery systems and a variety of other clinical features and capabilities.