Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Big Honking Ambulance

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Doctors and medics here received a new tool today to aid in the treatment of wounded servicemembers on the battlefield. The tool, which is a little too big to carry in a medic’s aid bag, comes equipped with armor and a crew-served weapon. In the parking lot of the Combined Joint Task Force-82 Joint Operations Center here, the newest configuration of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, the MRAP Ambulance, was shown to the CJTF-82 staff Feb. 10. “What the [MRAP Ambulance] brings is survivability,” said Army Lt. Col. Coll Haddon, the joint program manager (forward) for the MRAP. According to Hadden, the vehicles are equipped with life-saving equipment not usually found in ambulances on the battlefield such as oxygen, suction capabilities and vitals monitors. “You’re getting the medical capabilities to the Soldier as opposed to getting the Soldier to the medical capabilities,” Hadden said. With the added capabilities, Hadden said the “golden hour” doctors have for treating a patient is not lost to transporting the wounded servicemember as the capabilities are brought to the patient.Just as important as the new medical equipment on board is the armor the vehicle is wrapped in. Able to withstand large-calibre projectiles as well as being mine resistant, the MRAP Ambulance provides a safe haven for medical personnel to transport and treat as many as six patients.“It offers increased protection and allows medics to … treat casualties in a safe location,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Patrick L. Melvin, a CJTF-82 medic. The mine-resistance also adds an advantage, Melvin said. With the improvised explosive device-threat, the ambulances CJTF-82 currently uses could not be taken on to the battlefield due to a lack of armor, he added. Now, with the MRAP’s v-shaped hull and armor, it can be used in ground evacuations when air assets are not available. Following a medical training and operator’s training, the new MRAPs will be fielded by servicemembers in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan.

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