New MRAP ambulance prototypes many improvements

By on Monday, November 22nd, 2010

WASHINGTON: A Pentagon team is working with the Army Medical Command and BAE Systems to build a new Caiman Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Ambulance that offers a host of technological innovations.

The new MRAP ambulance will have more space to treat patients, more on-board electrical power for medical equipment and additional protection for patients and crew members, officials from the Pentagon’s Joint Program Office MRAP said.

“As we get more data and experience with MRAPs, the medical community looks to bring more medical assets to the fight, in new ways,” said David Hansen, deputy program manager, JPO MRAP.

The new prototype Caiman Ambulance, built on a Caiman MRAP chassis with a protective armor capsule and V-shaped hull, includes space for four litters and an attendant along with additional technologies, ventilation and on-board power to treat patients.

“The Caiman Ambulance has the ability to transport four litter casualties or six ambulatory casualties or two litter casualties and three ambulatory casualties. It is the only MRAP variant that can transport this many litter patients,” said Kerry Riese, assistant program manager for the Caiman Vehicle Team, MRAP Joint Program Office.

“It provides a robust quality of casualty en-route care and delivery while providing enhanced survivability,” Riese said. “The vehicle’s versatility provides life-saving treatment or management procedures, vital-sign-monitoring and airway management with continuous oxygen delivery.”

Built by BAE Systems in close coordination with JPO MRAP and Army Medical Command, the Caiman MRAP Ambulance prototype is a reconfigured Caiman vehicle.

“You have interior comfort, you’ve got space, and you’ve got a very effective prototype. This has been going through user trials and user juries. We’ve been working hand in hand with AMEDD to get this absolutely right,” said Chris Chambers, line leader, BAE Systems Global Tactical Systems.

The Caiman MRAP is intended to be fielded to Ground Ambulance and Area Support Medical Companies, Riese said. The vehicle will have the role of evacuating and transporting casualties between medical facilities, combat support hospitals and air terminals.

The prototype vehicle is designed with the latest in medical technologies.

“The Caiman has the Vital Sign Monitor, On-Board Suction, O2 Concentrator (produces it own oxygen), Blood/Fluid Warmer, Pulse Oximeter and the MRAP Medical Equipment Set (MES). This medical set has been used in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has improved the medic’s ability to treat, stabilize and maintain a casualty when treatment facilities are far from the point of injury,” said Riese.

The interior of the Caiman vehicle from the driver’s/commander’s compartment to the rear underwent a total redesign, Riese explained.

“The vehicle was completely gutted and rebuilt with an internal design that incorporates a new digi-rack to hold communications equipment, an attendant’s seat, upgraded HVAC system with an additional fresh air handler, a litter lift system, and mounting provisions for medical equipment,” he said.

The redesign also includes an ambulance-unique lighting system, integrated floor that allows for low-level disinfection, and an AC-power supply for on-board medical equipment. The Caiman is built with two 570-amp alternators and as many as 36 AC power outlets.

Equipping the vehicle with an additional alternator, two more batteries and multiple AC outlets provides the power to support the Special Medical Emergency Evacuation Device, or SMEED, which is a device used to support the care of critical patients being transported from a Combat Support Hospital to air transport back to U.S.-based hospitals, Riese explained.

The SMEED has multiple items including a Ventilator/Portable Oxygen Tank, Patient Monitor/Defibrillator, suction device, and two to four infusion pumps, all of which require AC power to run, Riese said.

“The additional alternator and AC power outlets were integrated to ensure the capability to operate all integrated electric equipment and recharge various battery-powered medical devices that may be used on the vehicle while the ambulance is performing its operational responsibilities. The ambulance has additional electric requirements beyond the standard Caiman,” said Riese.

Other adjustments to the Caiman Ambulance include blast-attenuated seats, localized lighting displays and a slightly wider, 48-inch rear door designed to facilitate rapid entry and egress, Riese explained.

“The vehicle has a Caterpillar C9, 450 HP engine, integrated to a Caterpillar CX28 transmission, and a two-speed Caterpillar Transfer case. The vehicle’s fully independent suspension is made up of three Arvin Meritor 50 Series HMIS [High Mobility Independent Suspension] Caiman Suspension Modules,” Riese said.

Overall, the Caiman MRAP Ambulance is the result of a long-standing collaborative process between the JPO MRAP, Army Medical Command and BAE Systems.

“The medical community looks at all of our variants and continues to challenge us to bring more medical capability to the fight in a protected fashion. During one of our conversations with the medical community, they asked us to look and see if we could develop a Caiman ambulance to go with all of the other MRAP ambulances we have,” said Hansen.

There are roughly 700 MRAP ambulances already in service, including Navistar’s MaxxPro Ambulance and BAE’s Heavy Armored Ground Ambulance, or HAGA RG33, Hansen said.

“The MRAP ambulance has been around since the beginning, as it was part of our original requirement. It basically stems from the idea that if we can protect medical people as well as our other servicemembers, we can bring medical people closer to the fight and allow them to care for and save lives faster,” said Hansen.

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