The United States Army is raving about the three new Patient Evacuation Vehicles (PEV) that are being used to transport wounded warriors returning from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom from the runways of Andrews Air Force Base to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, commander of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said the new PEVs afford patients a more comfortable ride than the Blue Bird buses that were being used. The size of the PEVs allows staffing by Critical Care Air Transport teams capable of transforming the PEV into a mobile intensive care unit.

The first PEV was delivered in June. The $510,500 vehicle, produced by General Truck Body Manufacturing Co in Houston TX, can transport 16 non-ambulatory or 12 ambulatory patients, plus the Critical Care Air Transport teams. Maj. Terri Holloway-Petty, officer-in-charge of the Air Evacuation (AIRVAC) nursing section, said the PEVs give the AIRVAC team more room to work, and technology built in gives other advantages.

The new vehicles are 40 feet long and 8½ feet wide, and have a GVW of 52,000 pounds.

The PEV is based upon a modified tractor chassis equipped with a full air-ride suspension and an on-the-fly hydraulic PTO system. The vehicle is equipped with a host of operator controls and features, including radio communications and NFPA-compliant emergency lighting and siren systems.

General Body designed and integrated its custom body solution onto the tractor chassis, creating a robust clinical environment for both the patients and medical team. The body includes a special walk-through feature that provides unobstructed access to the driver's cab from the patient area and a custom rear entrance ramp that facilitates clear and safe handling of litter-borne critical-care patients.

Subsystems include redundant and intelligent electrical power generation and distribution systems, integrated heating and cooling systems, medical grade oxygen, air, suction delivery systems, and other clinical features and capabilities.