Off-road emergency vehicle ready to deploy in Hampton Roads

emergency vehicle mrat.jpg
Posted at 1:53 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 18:02:40-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – A new emergency vehicle is rolling out in Hampton Roads. In fact, four of them are now spread out through Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Hampton and York County, and the plan is to get 10 of them for the region.

The vehicle is called a “Medical Rapid Access Transport Unit," or MRAT. It’s essentially a mini ambulance that has room for a stretcher, two attendants and the driver. However, it’s smaller and more maneuverable than a full-size ambulance.

“It allows us now to go through a crowd of about only 7 or 8 ft. wide instead of trying to clear a way of the normal 13 or 14 ft. to safely move the medic through,” explained Lt. Jason Coup of the Chesapeake Fire Department.

It will be on standby at the Chesapeake fireworks celebration on Saturday, July 3 at Chesapeake City Park. Emergency crews say it’s ideal for crowded festivals such as this.

“The Chesapeake Fire Department, for years, has always been proud that our services are comparable to the hospital situation, in what we call a 'pre-hospital situation,'” said Lt. Coup. “Our medics are trained to do everything possible to a person to treat them before they make it to the hospital so their outcome is so much better.”

When stocked and at events, the MRAT will have medical equipment like an IV and an AED.

Related: An inside look on one day of week-long lifeguard training in Norfolk

The MRAT is not street legal. It’s meant to go into crowded areas and off-road areas to get the patient and transport them to a full-size ambulance and then the hospital.

Each unit costs about $65,000, and Hampton Roads received a grant through Homeland Security for these. It’s all part of the Hampton Roads Mass Casualty Incident response plan, supported by the Hampton Roads Fire Chiefs Association and endorsed by the Hampton Roads All-Hazards Advisory Committee.