Paramedics check out new wheels

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Pictou County paramedics got a chance to see what Nova Scotia's new fleet of ambulances will look like Tuesday.

Local paramedics got a chance to see what the new ambulances that they will be getting will look like.

Pictou County paramedics got a chance to see what Nova Scotia's new fleet of ambulances will look like Tuesday, as representatives from Tri-Star Industries and the department of health and wellness dropped by with one of the new vehicles.

The province has signed an ambulance procurement contract with Tri-Star Industries of Yarmouth to lease 150 state-of-the-art ambulances. The contract also includes a refit after four years.

The vehicles replace the ones agreed upon in an agreement eight years ago.

“It’s an eight-year update that’s well needed,” said Dwayne Semple Regional Manager for EHS.

While there are always going to be different preferences among paramedics, Semple said there was paramedic input on the design.

“We had a team of paramedics work with all the folks here to come up with a decision,” he said. “It wasn’t just one of those things where they said ‘We’re just going to buy this particular vehicle.’ They had a vehicle user group that sat together.”

Tony Eden, director for ground ambulances with the Department of Health, was also in New Glasgow to showcase the new vehicle.

“As the old vehicles when the leases come up in the coming years they’ll be replaced with the newer ones,” he explained.

The first one will arrive in Pictou County around mid-November.

“Certainly from a patient care point of view, the vehicle provides for newer technology that allows for more optimum patient care by the paramedics being safer. The patients are more centered in the vehicle.”

He said the electronic system is also more state of the art.

"Nova Scotia has a world-class emergency-care system and we are proud to build and supply world-class ambulances for the people of Nova Scotia," said Keith Condon, president of Tri-Star Industries, in a release. "We have worked with a representative group of paramedics, the ambulance system operator and the Department of Health and Wellness for many months to design this ambulance."

The eight-year contract is worth $31.4 million. Founded in Yarmouth, Tri-Star Industries is a custom vehicle manufacturer specializing in ambulances. The company has supplied its products to 45 countries since it began exporting in 1979.

The new ambulances will feature:

–  a redesigned patient care area with safer seating and will allow paramedics to provide better patient care

–  better infection control with new, easier to maintain, seating and cabinet materials

–  reflective graphics on backs and sides to make ambulances more visible to other drivers, especially when parked at a scene

–  improved manufacturing that will make the ambulances lighter

Organizations: Tri-Star Industries, Department of Health and Wellness

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Pictou County, Yarmouth

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