It already passed its baptism of fire during the heavy rain disaster operation in the Ahr valley - at INTERSCHUTZ, it will be presented to a large audience for the first time: The Johanniter from Lower Saxony and Bremen have developed a new type of ambulance. At first glance, the JUH vehicle differs only in having a small driver's cab. Instead of a six-seater squad cabin, the ten-ton truck only has room for a driver and passenger. But the ten-ton truck literally has it all. What's more, volunteers played a leading role in the development of the GW Sanit├Ąt JUH alongside full-time staff.

His colleague Kathrin Jahns, Project Manager GW SAN and volunteer at the JUH local association in Hildesheim, adds: "Many ideas and experiences that volunteer population protectors of the Johanniter have gathered over the past years have been incorporated and implemented in the new vehicle."

From planning to implementation in just two years

A total of twelve of these new-type vehicles have been put into service in recent months. The first planning foundations were laid back in 2018. "Essentially, we were concerned with an effective loading concept and the optimization of "personnel requirements," explains Thorsten Ernst. The basis for the specifications of the new GW-San JUH were the extensive experiences of the Johanniter population protectors from various missions. Since the market did not have a suitable vehicle to offer, Johanniter decided on a new development.

Together with a company from the region, the new concept was implemented. At the end of 2019, there was its first draft. In July 2020, the first prototype rolled out of the workshops in Elze, Lower Saxony.

Advantages due to new planning concept

The new loading concept provides for the material to be arranged on trolleys according to areas such as infusion, trauma and respiration. In addition, there are rolling containers equipped with tent and medical supplies as well as everything for oxygen supply. The trolleys, loaded with up to 259 kilograms, can be moved and unloaded by just one person. The six trolleys can be stored in the rear part of the vehicle.

Some of the trolleys are designed like the trolleys familiar from emergency rooms and intensive care units. This enables the emergency services to quickly find their way around - among other things, thanks to color coding. Unloaded, the emergency trolleys can be used as a complete unit at a treatment center. The material is quickly ready for use. To simplify procedures, a central oxygen supply for patients was planned and implemented. In addition, a "quick pullout" on the driver's side contains the material needed to secure the scene of the emergency for rapid access by the vehicle driver. In addition, a power generator, cable drums, headlights, headlight stands, pylons and more have found a place there.

On the passenger side, there is another "quick pullout" with emergency medical material and equipment - including oxygen, respirators, defibrillator, ECG, emergency backpacks of various designs for infusions and for intubation. In addition, supplementary material for patient transport is stowed there, ready to hand. Rapid treatment of injured patients is thus also possible. Thanks to an adapted insertion system, additional material can be easily accessed from the side of the vehicle. Together with another emergency train and supplementary components, it is possible to set up and operate a so-called support station 500. In this way, the emergency forces can care for and attend to up to 500 affected persons after an incident.

Seven of the twelve vehicles are integrated into the structure of the treatment stations 500 of the Lower Saxony disaster control, which have been set up in the Johanniter regional associations Weser-Ems and Southern Lower Saxony. Four vehicles are used in Lower Saxony and Bremen for municipal civil protection, and another vehicle is located at the Johanniter Academy Lower Saxony/Bremen in Hannover.

Only two task forces

The vehicle and equipment of the ambulance have been designed and laid out in such a way that, once alerted, the vehicle can be deployed with two emergency personnel to unload and assemble the equipment. According to St. John Ambulance, the comprehensive new design means that a patient depot can be set up with significantly fewer personnel (including non-specialists). The personnel for the supply of patients drives to the place of action with a team transport vehicle (MTW).

The vehicle itself is not necessary for the operation of the patient depot and can be used as an additional transport component in the operational logistics. The completely redesigned loading concept has reportedly created extensive, contiguous storage space with a tail lift in the rear of the vehicle with room for several Euro pallets of material.

The investment in the future of civil protection in Lower Saxony and Bremen is worth around 2.64 million euros.