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Lenco’s BearCat MedEvac G3 ‘lifesaving piece of equipment’ during natural disaster response

Unable to go through high floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey and Irma, first responders put off-road vehicles up to the test

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Because many responders could not go through high floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey and Irma, departments relied on lifesaving equipment like off-road vehicles.

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By Sarah Calams for FireResuce1 BrandFocus

On Sept. 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in southern Florida. And, just weeks prior to Irma, Hurricane Harvey struck southeast Texas.

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane for a nearly record-breaking three days, was later classified as one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. in years. Before Irma, there was Hurricane Harvey, which led to over one million people to evacuate their homes in Texas. Harvey, which caused $125 billion in damage and killed nearly 70 people, is tied with Hurricane Katrina as one of the costliest storms in U.S. history.

Despite this, first responders from all over the U.S. came together to help those affected by the two extremely powerful and damaging storms. Police, fire and EMS providers worked non-stop during search and rescue efforts, conducting block-by-block searches for those trapped by rising floodwaters. After tirelessly assisting with Harvey response and relief efforts, hundreds of responders left Texas to prepare for Irma.

And, when responders were unable to reach citizens due to continually rising waters, one piece of equipment was invaluable during their search and rescue efforts: Lenco Armored Vehicle’s BearCat MedEvac G3.

Designed for first responders

Because many responders could not go through high floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey and Irma, departments relied on lifesaving equipment like off-road vehicles.

The BearCat MedEvac G3 is equipped with off-road tires, rims and run flats. Its heavy-duty suspension and increased ground clearance allows responders to go where typical rescue response vehicles can’t – reaching and rescuing victims faster during natural disasters like a hurricane.

Firefighter-paramedic Jennifer Leondike, who works in Pasco County and Pinellas County, Florida, said her team wouldn’t have been able to rescue victims during Hurricane Irma without the BearCat MedEvac G3.

“We have a neighborhood that floods pretty frequently. [The neighborhood] ended up under several feet of water,” Leondike said. “We had to take our BearCat out, because it could go through the higher level water. There were probably 10 or 15 people there that we needed to get safe from the floods.”

On top of high water, departments also had to take strong winds into consideration.

“Once wind speeds exceed 40 miles per hour, ambulances are unable to respond to emergencies,” Lt. Ralph McDuffy, with Lake County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office, said.

This inability to respond may have sidelined some agencies, but not Lt. McDuffy’s. Instead, the department turned their BearCat MedEvac G3 into an ambulance.

Safe, effective environment for treating patients

With on-board oxygen tanks, a lighted workstation and multiple compartments for medical supplies, utilizing the BearCat MedEvac G3 as an ambulance is a safe and effective option.

As a result, many departments train for scenarios like loading and treating patients in the back of the vehicle.

“We practice doing tactical medicine in the back so we can actually treat patients while we’re moving them away from the emergency scene,” Leondike said.

The BearCat MedEvac G3, designed for Tactical Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) personnel, comfortably sits 10 to 12 fully equipped team members. Moreover, its increased vehicle length provides enough room for 2 liters.

"[Treating patients] is something that we would never be able to do in a car, because there’s just not the space to do it,” Leondike said.

And, its all-steel armor construction gives responders a peace of mind – knowing they’re safe no matter what type of emergency they respond to.

Lifesaving vehicle for responders, citizens

For departments that are unsure if the BearCat MedEvac G3 is the right fit for their response needs, Lt. McDuffy clarified that the vehicle is not just for TEMS personnel.

“This is a lifesaving piece of equipment,” he said. “Not only the lives of tactical law enforcement officers, but law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS personnel.”

More importantly, Lt. McDuffy said the BearCat MedEvac G3 helps save what every department swears to protect: the citizens they serve.

“It’s important to the team – there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “But, I’ll tell you what … it’s really more important to all the citizens that we serve.”

During Hurricane Harvey and Irma, responders jumped from one natural disaster to the next – spending immeasurable hours of work during response and relief efforts.

And, while there are countless tasks to worry about during an emergency response, departments shouldn’t be concerned with how they’re going to reach and save victims.

“We have this product to save lives,” said Lt. McDuffy.