Converting an aging, in-service APC vehicle into a modern treatment level ambulance is not a simple task. This however was the assignment in Finnish Defense Forces latest ambulance procurement project, where two 6×6 XA-185 type APCs received a thorough overhaul and were equipped with the latest medical care equipment.
Throughout the company history Frestems have been in a close co-operation with the Finnish Defense Forces in their ambulance projects. Our role has been either a product supplier or a turnkey full ambulance solution provider. In this case we were trusted to operate as the prime contractor.
Full ambulance solution development began with producing requirement specifications for the overall system. The requirement specification took into consideration for example the environmental aspects for a vehicle in military use, patient loading capacity, treatment capability (medical equipment available), functionality, working ergonomics for the medics, system safety, reliability and specific customer requirements. These specifications were then passed down to each subsystem, eventually ending up to specification for individual equipment installed in the ambulance.
Specified requirements brought challenges to the designers, for example:
- Is the commercially available medical equipment suitable for military environment?
- How to fit numerous devices into limited space so that they are easily reachable by the medics and does not add safety risks for the patients or medics?
- How to load and house three stretcher patients and two medics so that the loading is as quick as possible and each patient can be treated?
- How to make an ambulance easily configurable to increase the number of sitting patients in case of an evacuation situation?
- How to get the medical equipment work reliably and continuously with a higher electrical load and different electric supply needs?
- How to get the treatment space air conditioned and comfortable in highly varying outside temperatures?
- How to get high intensity lighting to the treatment space without disturbing the drivers or expose the vehicle in operational use?
In addition to the challenges above, the existing common platform equipment and other non-ambulance specific systems needed to be taken into account when adapting and adding the ambulance equipment into the mix.
As the end result, we ended up making very extensive modifications to the basic vehicle. New heating, climate control system and electrical generator ensured stable conditions in the treatment space. Interior lighting as well as outside alarm and working lights enabled full operation capability also in dark.
In layout design a unique solution was found where a great deal of the medical systems was placed above the roof of the patient compartment. This was possible by using the turret ring as access into a dedicated treatment equipment module installed on vehicle roof. As all stretcher platforms were situated close to the ring, the medics could have an easy access to all the systems installed or stored there; oxygen supply, monitoring, defibrillator, syringe pumps, suction device etc.
The ambulance was configured for three stretcher patients or alternatively for two stretcher patients with three seated patients. ProMIL 245 was selected as the primary stretcher loading system, as it is able to extend to low loading height even though installed to side wall above the wheel arc. Free corridor space was left for two secondary ProMIL 240s and three bi-foldable seats. As both the seats and secondary stretcher systems were foldable design, most of the central corridor space could be kept free unless the ambulance is fully loaded.
All in all, both our team and the customer were very satisfied to on time delivery which fulfilled all customer requirements. In this project, the teamwork between the project management, designers, production staff, quality management and cooperation partners played hand-in hand for an ambulance, which is fully equipped and ready for service.