The ambulance was a refitted $160,000 Lotus Evora sports car. It will be packed with high-tech life-saving equipment and will allow paramedics to travel at speeds of up to 185mph. This speed will reportedly cut first responder response time by minutes, said the BBC News.
The two-seater is not designed to transport patients. Rather it will allow a paramedic and his equipment to get to the accident scene quickly. Once there, the paramedic can start to stabilize a patient before the slower ambulance gets there. The high-speed emergency vehicle was fitted with a hard-cased widescreen notebook that can transmit information gathered by the paramedics to the hospital or an incoming crew. A defibrillator and first aid kit fit behind the driver’s seat and an oxygen supply is in the trunk, the BBC News (10.16.14) said.
The new fleet of ambulances will also include two Ford Mustangs and, possibly, a Chevrolet Corvette. The cars are expected to be in operation by the end of the year.
However smart this strategy sounds, using sports cars as emergency response vehicles may not be the best idea. According to Matt Zavadksy, director of public affairs at MedStar Mobile Healthcare, who was interviewed for an article in Wired, response times are not the best measure of how a patient may fare.
“Clinically, it’s not going to make a difference,” Zavadsky said, “Any response time over five minutes does not make a difference in the patient’s outcome as long as first responders arrive within 15 minutes or so. The shortest possible response time matters only in cases involving cardiac arrest, and even the best EMS team in the fastest vehicle can’t move that quickly.”
Wired said research from the U.S. Metropolitan Municipalities EMS Medical Directors Consortium supported Zavadsky’s statements.
Focusing on getting to those in need at top speed can actually make the outcome worse. Speed could end more lives than it may save. A sports car that can hit 160 mph travels best across a flat, clear area. However, in a city with many people, many vehicles, many other obstacles, plus stop-and-go traffic, a speeding sports car can be dangerous.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 1992 and 2011 there were approximately 4,500 motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. per year that involved an ambulance.
Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to all traffic crashes, said the NHTSA. In 2011, 9,944 people died in speeding-related crashes. In fact, speeding was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes.
In New York, a speeding driver who causes a crash may be held responsible for resulting injuries and-or property damage.
The BBC News story cited is “Gitex: The world’s fastest ambulance.”
The Wired article cited is “Hey Dubai: A 160 MPH Ambulance May Not Be a Great Idea.”