Fire Department Goes Mini for Large Events

The small ambulance used by the UC Davis Fire Department.
Expect to see this miniature ambulance around campus, responding to calls at large events or parked as an outreach effort. (Nate Trauernicht/UC Davis)

The UC Davis Fire Department has a new way to squeeze through campus crowds on its way to medical emergencies: a pint-sized ambulance.


National CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) Awareness Week is underway! The UC Davis Fire Department has already held one training session on campus this week to train people in hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, and has one more planned: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday (June 6) on the South Patio of the Memorial Union, with training free for everyone.

Student emergency medical technicians are the trainers, and they are also promoting the Fire Department’s regular CPR classes and the smartphone app PulsePoint (which notifies CPR-certified people when a cardiac incident is happening near them, so they can go help), as well as testing people's knowledge with a trivia board and CPR sticker prizes.

Thursday (June 7), the Fire Department will participate in Capitol CPR Day in Sacramento from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the north lawn of the Capitol, providing yet another opportunity for people to learn hands-only CPR. Training is free.

The six-wheeled, all-wheel-drive utility vehicle is roughly the size of a Mini Cooper but can carry EMTs and a patient on a full-sized cot through tight spaces or even off-road.

The vehicle, a MedStat ASAP MS250, will be used mostly for large events, Fire Chief Nate Trauernicht said.

“Many of the events on campus have thousands of people and we don't want to be driving large firetrucks and ambulances through big crowds of pedestrians and bicyclists,” he said. “The MedStat ASAP quickly, easily and safely gets to emergencies in crowded situations that other vehicles can't.”

Traditional ambulances will still be required; Trauernicht envisions using the smaller MedStat to maneuver through a crowd and move a patient to a more open area where a full-size ambulance is waiting.

The MedStat vehicle, which is built on the chassis of a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle and has a top speed of 40 miles per hour, got its first use responding to calls on Picnic Day. Trauernicht said it will be the vehicle of choice for EMT standbys, situations where the department sends EMTs — previously in SUVs — to large events like football games or concerts, just in case of a medical emergency.

The fire chief said the MedStat ambulance has already brought one surprise: A large amount of interest from onlookers.

“It gets a lot of looks and even more people asking questions about it,” Trauernicht said. “Most are surprised when the rear roll-up door reveals that it is an ambulance.”

As a result, it's already doing double-duty as a visual aid for outreach events like this week's focus on CPR, much like the campus Police Department’s brightly painted Polaris Slingshot three-wheel motorcycle, a roaming campaign against distracted driving.

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