By Rhys Fullerlove
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — The Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center rolled out the newest Humvee ambulance today.
The M997A3, the most modern ambulance in the fleet, is fitted on a Humvee and headed to the National Guard.
The ambulance boasts a number of improvements crucial to supporting the National Guard in Homeland Security and natural disaster relief missions.
These models feature a variety of upgrades from the ambulances they replace, including an improved drive train and electrical components, improvements inside the ambulance cabin, and elements that provide for greater storage of medical equipment.
Enhancements also focused on the cabin lighting systems, giving medics brighter LED lighting, and greater control over the ventilation system.
"There is a control panel back here for the heating and air conditioning systems," Army Capt. Kevin Schierholz, light tactical vehicle system integrator at the National Guard Bureau. "In the older model, those systems were controlled up front in the cab. Now the medics in the back can control the temperature in the back."
Additionally, a larger door between the front cab and the rear area allows for easier movement between the two, said Schierholz.
Along with the improved ambulance also comes improved medical kits that feature a greater emphasis on trauma care, said Schierholz.
RIA-JMTC has an order for 500 ambulances, said Scott Young, Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, known as RIA-JMTC, Ambulance Program Manager. Last year, RIA-JMTC produced five prototypes prior to going into full production this January. Currently the arsenal is producing 15 ambulances a month, and will ramp up to 30 a month, starting in April. RIA-JMTC will close out the order in June 2015.
More than 100 people were on hand at the ceremony, to see the ambulance roll off the line at Rock Island Arsenal.
"This arsenal produces many critical items for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that support missions abroad and at home," said RIA-JMTC Commander Col. David J. Luders. "The M997A3 Ambulance for the National Guard is just one way we are supporting our Homeland Security mission."
The program manager for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles echoed the importance of the kits that Rock Island was producing.
"America's Soldiers deserve the best capabilities at home and abroad," said Col. John R. Cavedo Jr. "Today we continue to deliver on that promise, addressing a critical ground ambulance shortage with the most modern ambulance fleet in the U.S. Army. My thanks to everyone whose diligence and perseverance brought this program to where it is today."
Douglas Curell, resource manager for the Army National Guard Bureau, explained how important the new ambulances would support the National Guard's homeland defense and natural disaster relief missions.
"These ambulances are critical to helping our civilians in the United States during natural disasters," said Curell. "Army National Guard units equipped with Humvee ground ambulances are able to go that last mile, over rough terrain, where civilian ambulances can't go. These ambulances will be life savers."