Through the AmbuBus program, school districts receive conversion kits that enable them to turn out-of-rotation buses into medical evacuation vehicles.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The state's Department of Health (MSDH), together with the Department of Education, area emergency response agencies and several school districts, has established AmbuBus, a program to distribute conversion kits that allow districts to turn out-of-rotation buses into medical evacuation vehicles during emergencies.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, officials examined emergency procedures looking for gaps to fill, Jim Craig explained. Craig, director of the health department's Office of Health Protection, said buses converted by Keesler Air Force Base and used during hurricane evacuations inspired the program. Because most counties in the state are rural, often only one ambulance is available to cover an entire county during an emergency.
MSDH applied for a federal grant to fund the program, thus school districts receive the kits free of charge. Chantilly, Va.-based First Line Technology LLC manufactures the kits, which include two metal frames, each constructed to hold nine standard stretchers along with IVs and any other necessary medical items.
Transportation staff learn to assemble the AmbuBus kit.
According to the company, installation time is two hours and kits fit most buses. A converted bus with seats removed can carry 18 patients and a team of up to eight medical personnel.
Currently, six school districts in the state have been provided with kits, with plans to add three more. "We're requesting additional funding next year so that we can expand the program to include other school districts," Craig said. Maintenance staff at the school districts with kits received hands-on training in installing the conversion kit equipment.