An ambulance bus, medical ambulance bus, AmBus, AmbuBus or MAB is a type of ambulance used to transport and treat multiple patients who require ambulance-level care. Ambulance buses have been used for a number of different purposes, including mass casualty incident response, disaster response, offering on-site triage, surge capacity, testing hospital preparedness, firefighter rehabilitation, hospital evacuation, rest home (nursing home) evacuation, taking patients on routine journeys (such as holidays) for care-dependent patients or patients who use wheelchairs, or to deal with specific problems such as drunken patients in town centres. Ambulance buses can also be used to prevent health crises by providing mobile care during marathons/events or providing a respite from the heat and preventing heat exhaustion on hot days.
In the event of a major disaster or evacuation, ambulance buses can be used to transport high volumes of patients or evacuate non-ambulatory patients from hospitals and nursing homes to care centers out of harm's way. Critical care transport and Advanced Life Support systems are integrated into each vehicle to accommodate the needs of patients requiring constant intensive care. Ambulance buses can be deployed to major incidents, where multiple patients are present or expected, and can be used in two main ways:
Traditional ambulance buses are designed from the ground up to handle the increased demands of multi-patient treatment and transportation. They are built with the intention of providing a close resembleace to a mobile hospital and often include large amounts of medical equipment.
In some cases, existing responder vehicles like used school or city buses can be used as mass casualty transport vehicles with the installation an AmbuBus Kit, which is installed inside a vehicle of opportunity to create an ambulance bus capable of transporting up to 18 nonambulatory patients. These conversion kits are inexpensive alternatives when agencies do not have enough funding for a new ALS/BLS medical ambulance bus, which can often cost up to $750,000. Conversion Kits give first responders and municipalities the option of a low cost, temporarily or permanently installed conversion kits for mass casualty response.
On-demand ambulance bus kits are temporarily installed inside any available vehicle (like a school or city bus) on an as-needed basis when the need is anticipated in advance, like in the case of hurricanes or planned hospital maintenance. When not in use, kits can be stored in warehouses with low maintenance costs. When needed, kits are installed and used. After use, the vehicle can be returned to daily use. With some kits, holes are drilled in the shell of the bus, requiring recertification. However, with other kits (like the pressure-mounted AmbuBus Kit), vehicles can easily be returned to daily use without recertification. Temporary ambulance bus kits are ideal for hospital evacuations, mortuary affairs, and the transport of special needs patients.
No-notice ambulance bus kits are permanently installed into a vehicle of opportunity (like a school or city bus) and are on-call to respond at a moment's notice for earthquakes, terrorist attacks, or other no-notice disasters. Permanently installed kits are sometimes preferable to traditional MABs because they are less expensive than traditional ambulance buses, can be reconfigurable in the field, are transferable in case of vehicle malfunction, and can use the existing vehicle assets of a city. Permanent ambulance bus kits are ideal for mass casualty evacuation and transport, but can also be used for emergency prophylaxis distribution and firefighter rehabilitation.
Some charities operate ambulance buses in a patient transport role specifically to allow stretcher bound patients to take excursions or holidays away from hospital, whilst still be able to benefit from a full care service from their healthcare escorts.
Some mass casualty buses are specially adapted to for CBRN incidents and can be used for quarantine or isolation of contaminated patients. These vehicles may have additional features such as a sealed bulkhead to separate the driver compartment from the patient compartment. The equivalent functionality of the ambulance buses may also be built into other vehicles such as lorries, trains or other large mass transit vehicles. These mass evacuation buses are well suited for quarantine and containment.
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