A new set of massive wheels rolled out Thursday as some local first responders reveal their newest one-of-kind response vehicle for mass-casualty emergencies.
Sadly, South Florida is no stranger to large-scale disasters.
On Feb. 14, 2018, it was mass hysteria and mass casualties when Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The mass shooting killed 17 people and injured 17 others.
“I think it hit all of us very closely in one way or another,” said Clint Sperber, as administrator of the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County. “We all have our own thoughts about how we could help out.”
In 2018, a massive storm delivered a deadly hit when Hurricane Michael swept through.
“We could have helped with evaluation, we could have helped with rehab,” said Brian Blizzard, St. Lucie County Fire District Assistant Fire Chief.
During an emergency, every second counts.
Taking injured victims from a mass shooting or mass casualty disaster to the hospital is a difficult and slow process.
So first responders in Port St. Lucie have assembled a new response vehicle.
“This is a critical resource that we have and it’s one that quite frankly we hope we never need,” Blizzard said.
The assistant fire chief showed us their newest mass casualty bus. It’s the only one on the Treasure Coast.
“Let’s go on inside,” he said. “It was a regular school bus.”
Now, they’re able to take more people to and from the hospital, around 12 non-critical patients, saving lives by saving time and resources.
“We would walk the patients up from the back, using the ramp system and the patients would be loaded into this system here,” Blizzard sad.
Not knowing when the next disaster may strike, they hope to be prepared.
"As many natural disasters as we had, it’s a tool that we have in our arsenal," Sperber said.
The bus was donated by the St. Lucie School District and was outfitted with a "kit" that was provided to the Fire District in partnership with the Health Department. It could be used within the county, region and state.
Its first operational use was during the holiday season, when first responders delivered toys to area underprivileged children.