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Mich. FD’s new tactical emergency vehicle to aid in flood response, active shooter scenes

The truck can drive through up to 40 inches of water, in over 230 mph winds, up steep inclines and slopes, and can withstand 40,000 pounds of impact


By Myesha Johnson
The Detroit News

DEARBORN, Mich. — A new tactical vehicle will help Dearborn’s Fire Department respond to flooding, increase the number of patients for transport and aid in active shooter situations, the department said.

The emergency response vehicle cost $300,000, which was approved by the Dearborn City Council in August. The MedCat MedEvac Tactical Emergency Support Emergency Response Vehicle can transport up to four patients at a time and can be used in many emergencies.

The department has been using an 1983 Dodge emergency vehicle that is past its expected service life.

“There’s a need for vehicles like this in those real high-risk situations, so that we’re able to effectively get to people quickly and be able to provide them treatment or in case of flood ... get them in a flood and bring them back, where a normal vehicle wouldn’t be able to go,” said fire Chief Joseph Murray.

“It allows to get access to a patient so that we can grab a patient, treat them in the back of this vehicle with our advanced life support medical supplies. It allows us to do that pretty much instantaneously, where before, you would have to wait for a number of different means to get to victims,” Murray said.

Having the vehicle in its stable means “we don’t have to wait for a regional partner or the state police to come here,” Murray said.

The Dearborn police and fire departments said in a joint email statement that they sought to buy the vehicle in August “for the purpose of enhancing first responders’ ability to render medical aid and preserve human life in emergent situations.”

“The alarming rise of mass flooding events in Dearborn has been particularly concerning, given the tactical barriers that arise from flooded streets and intersections,” the departments said. “On a technical level, the ERV’s other main draws include its onboard medical equipment and storage ...”

The truck can drive through up to 40 inches of water, in over 230 mph winds, up steep inclines and slopes, and can withstand 40,000 pounds of impact. It is equipped with bulletproof windows strong enough to block projectiles traveling up to 100 mph and has extra ground clearance, upgraded suspension and off-road-run flat tires.

“What really kind of drilled it home for us was the flooding a couple of years ago,” said Dearborn Police Chief Issa Shahin. “The ability to be able to rescue people that might be trapped either in their cars or their homes was something that we thought was important.”

With the city’s new emergency response vehicle, Shahin said, first responders will have more capacity to transport and treat injured patients on-site.

“If we had an active shooter situation it would allow us to not only get into an area that could be dangerous but we could also rescue people that might need to be rescued that are injured,” Shahin said. “It can respond to areas that are dangerous and that ambulances can’t traverse if there’s water, if there are trees, it’s really an all-purpose vehicle that allows you to help people and provide them medical care in a way that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.”

The military-grade emergency response vehicle will not be used in day-to-day policing, Shahin said.

“It’s not something you’re going to see during the normal course of the day,” Shahin said. “If we’re using this vehicle it’s because we’ve had some type of disaster. So I don’t think it would be out of place given the times we would use it. ... It’s one of those things that you want to have but not need, but ... you don’t want to need it and not have it.”

The Lenco MedCat MedEvac Tactical Emergency Support Emergency Response Vehicle sits on a Ford F-550 chassis, has a large electric winch with synthetic rope and is expected to last at least 20 years. The police chief is expecting the vehicle to be delivered in the spring of 2023.


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