LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Lexington County has used it during hurricanes, bad car accidents, and fires at apartment complexes, but a unique ambulance the county has had for only a few years got one of its biggest tests Sunday morning – when first responders realized more than a hundred people were hurt and needed to get to a hospital after the train collision in Cayce.
The county deployed an ambulance bus, called an "ambus" for short.
When Lexington County EMS got the call around 2:30 AM Sunday, Chief Brian Hood said his department knew pretty quickly it was dealing with hundreds of injuries.
An ordinary ambulance can only carry two patients at most, but the "ambus" is no ordinary ambulance. It can carry almost twenty people.
Hood said the county purchased an old Lexington Richland Five school bus years ago that he and others stripped out, repainted, and refitted into an ambulance.
It gives paramedics and EMTs the ability to transport 18 people in stretchers and a few more seated, if possible.
The county applied for a DHEC gr ant to make it happen. The idea costs only about $100,000. Hood said new "ambus" would have cost the county about $450,000.
Sunday morning, it took about 40 people to the hospital in just two trips. That's more than a third of the patients transported.
"This was definitely the moment that made all the blood, sweat, and tears of engineering, designing, and developing this ambulance bus – this is really what it was made for," Chief Hood said.
Richland County EMS also has a similar bus, and it also helped out on Sunday.