BETHLEHEM — Delmar-Bethlehem EMS’ new mini-ambulance, codenamed 5180, responded to its first call on the Albany County Rail Trail on Wednesday, April 8 and helped transport an injured male to another waiting ambulance on a nearby roadway.
Steven Kroll, the EMS’ chief and executive director, said an emergency call was placed at 3:55 p.m. that day. Responding to the Rail Trail, 5180 helped provide medical assistance to “a male patient who was involved in a bicycle accident and received some significant injuries, including a head injury. He was then transported to another ambulance to be sent to the Albany Medical Center,” according to Kroll.
Although he declined to offer more details about the individual and the accident, Kroll said it demonstrates how beneficial the mini-ambulance is in responding to emergency calls along the Rail Trail or any other location that is not near a roadway that a full-size ambulance could otherwise respond to.
It contains essential medical equipment and provides a climate-controlled environment to transport a victim safely, instead of emergency personnel using a stretcher for a long distance which can be physically-strenuous and exposes the victim to the elements like rain or snow.
“The shoulders of the Rail Trail are soft so if a vehicle as large as a normal ambulance tries a U-turn, it would sink into the grass,” Kroll said. “The Rail Trail has long stretches of territory between roadway access points and not all offer direct access for ambulances. The mini-ambulance is built for off-road use and can provide patient care and treatment at the scene of the incident and while transporting the person.”
The mini-ambulance, housed inside the Delmar-Bethlehem EMS building, was first ordered in December 2019 and arrived in early January 2020. Kroll said it was the result of a grant facilitated by county officials in July 2019; the mini-ambulance cost $77,754.
“The Rail Trail has been less used during the winter months and since it’s springtime, we felt it was important to have the mini-ambulance ready for service before we head into the summer,” Kroll said, explaining why its first call happened in April. “It’s now available 24 hours, seven days a week to serve the entire length of the Rail Trail. We’ve also been working with neighboring jurisdictions that the Rail Trail passes, in case emergency calls are made along the trail in their jurisdictions. It can respond there.”
Kroll said that when dealing with emergency calls, minutes and environmental conditions matter.
He connected the mini-ambulance’s benefits with how his fellow Delmar-Bethlehem EMS colleagues, other healthcare workers and emergency responders continue to serve the community despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of us are working together to develop the best pathways to provide the best care for the residents of our community,” Kroll concluded. “I’d say I’m incredibly proud of all the emergency responders not only in our local community but throughout the Capital Region.”