If James Bond owned an ambulance, it would likely be a lot like the newest addition to Gold Cross Emergency Medical Service's fleet.
"It is the latest and the greatest," said Vince Brogdon, Gold Cross' Columbia County operations manager.
The 2006 Ford F-350 box ambulance, stationed at Eubank Blanchard Community Center in Phinizy, includes such new features as a Global Positioning System, snow chains at the push of a button, back-up sensors, a power stretcher to assist with lifting and cameras showing the rear and front of the ambulance and the patient compartment.
"Phinizy, since they usually get the lowest call volume, they usually get the hand-me-downs," Brogdon said. "We usually replace in the busier sections like Evans and Martinez, with the newer units. (Gold Cross owner) Bo Pounds wanted Phinizy to have a new truck. He said they deserved it."
The two men staffing the new ambulance, paramedic Dominique Baldwin and emergency medical technician-intermediate Danny Tiedeman, said they are excited to see and use the state-of-the-art vehicle, which went into service more than two weeks ago.
"We're feeling very privileged now to get a new truck, especially something this nice," Tiedeman said.
They seem to be most excited to use the new Stryker Power-Pro stretcher, which is electrically powered and can lift up to 500 pounds alone and up to 700 pounds with assistance. The stretcher is now on all five full-time ambulances and one part-time ambulance serving Columbia County.
"On our very first call with this truck and this stretcher, we had a patient that was kind of an obese woman, probably pushing 400 pounds," Tiedeman said. "I pushed the button and it went right on up by itself," he said. "... It was amazing."
Brogdon said Gold Cross purchased the stretchers, which allow a patient to be loaded into the ambulance by one person, to help save paramedics and EMTs from back injuries.
Concerning the new ambulance itself, features include cameras and sensors. A backup sensor and interior speaker let the driver know exactly how far from an object the back end of the ambulance is. Combined with a rear back-up camera that transmits to a monitor in the rear-view mirror, backing up and positioning the ambulance has gotten much easier, Baldwin said.
"Danny and I have it down to a science now," he said.
An interior camera on the patient compartment also feeds to the rear view mirror monitor so the driver can keep an eye on what's happening in the back of the ambulance without having to turn his head away from traffic.
"It's excellent, for instance if I am starting an IV in the back, he can sit there and look in the mirrors and actually see I am fixing to start the IV and he'll kind of watch his driving a little bit more, drive more precisely," Baldwin said.
Brodgon said a third camera to monitor what goes on in front of the ambulance is going to be installed in a couple of weeks.
"It'll be just like a police car dash camera so it can show what's going on in front," Brogdon said.
All county ambulances are now outfitted with push-button snow chains to handle the few snow storms in the area. The snow chains lower in front of each tire and spin, clearing snow from in front of the tires, Brogdon said.
The ambulance also features GPS and extra LED lights on the inside of the back doors to be seen when they are open.
"All of our trucks are now coming with air horns for extra sound," Brogdon said. "It will clear an intersection. It's like fire truck air horns, they are just as loud."
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