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Not All UTV’s Are Created Equal
In recent years, the older generation of ATV’s, known as UTVs, have seen an increase in use by emergency response organizations across the country. Fire, police and EMS now accept a wide variety of uses and applications for these UTVs, including ground firefighting, emergency medical evacuation from remote locations, police search and rescue, crowd control, SARS urban interface to name a few.
As the president and owner of one of the leading manufacturers of medical and fire equipment built specifically for these special vehicles, I get calls every day from top owners. I am responsible and managers all over the country asking about the suitability of one type of UTV model over another. Those who have never bought a UTV are in luck. Organizations have been purchasing UTVs with the mistaken belief that the particular make/model they are purchasing will be adequate for the needs of the emergency services they sometimes lead.
There are many makes and models of UTVs to choose from on the market today. Some are better suited to emergency services than others. Some UTVs do not have facilities that these organizations use for emergency services. The Polaris Ranger 6×6 and 4×4, Kubota RTV 900, Kawasaki Mule 3010, John Deere Gator 6×6 and 4×4, Cub Cadet big country, the Buffalo 6×6 and the amphibious Argo are very popular units and seem to be the most suitable for emergencies. ministry. There are many other makes and models that deserve further consideration to ensure they are useful for the mission they are expected to perform.
Emergency response organizations need to put as much time, effort, thought and due diligence into purchasing a UTV as they would an ambulance or fire truck. First, it is necessary to outline the objectives of the mission, type of typography/geography in the main response area (hills, steep versus wetlands, humid environment) and finally the primary mission of the UTV in the organization, medical transport, firefighting animals or combinations. the two. Once these questions are answered, the organization can look at the specifics of the various UTV models available that best suit the mission’s goals. Second, safety must always be high on the list. Most UTVs provide seat belts but make sure the UTV model you are interested in comes with them (and write the appropriate SOG’s or SOPs to ensure your company always follows seat belts) and also has a ROPS (roller over protection structure) which is basically a cage that protects the occupants of the UTV. Third, the weight of the whole load of the whole equipment, but especially the ability to carry the load bed is the most important. This is why many branches are in disarray. They go out and buy equipment that doesn’t meet the industry requirements of these skid components but it’s too late.
When considering purchasing a UTV, I am sure that the ability to train 4×4 or 6×6 correctly is a must for your organization. Again, check the manufacturer/model specification carefully. Some say it’s a 6×6 (which they are, almost) but if you look closely you’ll see that only 4 of the 6 wheels on the car are actually car wheels. The other two wheels are just wide open. Test the tool when looking at the turning radius of a 6×6 versus a 4×4, or if your mission requirements dictate a 6×6 over a 4×4.
In terms of cargo bed requirements for treatment type skid units, I have a general rule that the UTV you buy should be rated to carry at least 650 lbs. in the cargo bed of the unit. We arrive at this number by multiplying the weight of the main component of the skid (usually 150 lbs. or less) by the average weight of the caregiver, patient, trauma bag, O2 bag and bottles and other necessities. There are UTVs out there that are only rated for 400 lbs. in the cargo bed, which is less than 650 lbs. mentioned above. If you are interested in skids for water and equipment, this number can be as high as 900 lbs. and higher for the required cargo capacity. When doing your due diligence and obtaining specific requirements, all of the manufacturing sites mentioned above are good starting points. For example, the Polaris 6×6 Ranger has a gross vehicle weight rating of 1750 lbs. with a rated cargo bed capacity of 1250 lbs. The Kubota RTV 900 has a similar rating with an overall yield of 1653 lbs. and 1102-lbs. cargo bed capacity. The Polaris Ranger 4×4 has a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. and a cargo bed rated at 1000 lbs. As you can see, the manufacturer, model, and rating options will soon help you narrow down your search for the right UTV for the mission you hope to accomplish. Most UTV skid manufacturers are starting to standardize the size of the skid components. The cargo bed of a UTV must be at least 49″ and 54″ long. UTV units with smaller beds can limit you in the number of skid units you have to choose from and can increase the cost significantly if a custom skid unit needs to be made to fit your specific UTV.
Remember, as the head of an emergency services organization, you don’t want to put yourself in an untenable position by answering difficult questions from expensive trial lawyers who find your organization because You placed the wrong UTV in the wrong mission area. in danger. These vehicles must be given the same respect and due diligence when deciding what to buy as we do when purchasing larger vehicles. These vehicles can cause harm to our staff and patients, such as in the event of an accident involving a larger group. It’s important to do everything you can to avoid accidents by purchasing the right UTV for your mission.
In conclusion, the purpose of this article is to get you to carefully consider your UTV make/model options before making your final purchase. I would also like to say that I am not a fan of the use of ATVs by emergency services. I purchased one for my small rural department but soon realized that the unit did not provide enough protection for a firefighter/EMT. First, you ride an ATV like a motorcycle, not in a UTV like a car. Second, there are no seat belts on ATV’s where there are almost always seat belts on UTV’s, and ultimately the ATV’s can be very messy in many situations. ATVs should operate in a limited mission role in emergency response organizations. Remember, cheapest is not always best when the national motto for firefighters is “All come home”.
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