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Mission Driven: Retired Ambulances Helping to Improve Community Health

March 24, 2023

It’s easy to reuse furniture, clothing, even a car you no longer need. But an ambulance? Turns out that’s pretty easy, too.

Four ambulances retired from service at Hunter’s Ambulance Service are finding new life helping others in new ways, says Kevin Ferrarotti, senior system director for Hartford HealthCare’s emergency medical services and administrative director of Hunter’s, which is part of HHC’s system of care.

One will be part of the HHC Neighborhood Health initiative, which is designed to bring health prevention services and support directly to people and communities across the state. Neighborhood Health teams stage clinics in locations like community centers, soup kitchens and shelters to provide medical care to underserved populations.

“I love this, it’s such a great use,” Ferrarotti says. “Currently, all the supplies and consumables they use for Neighborhood Health are transported in different vehicles. Going forward, they will use the repurposed ambulance to transport everything they need.”

The ambulance has been stripped of all emergency lights and sirens and has been branded with HHC and Neighborhood Health logos, says Kelly Toth, APRN, system clinical director of Neighborhood Health. Fully stocked with food, snacks, hygiene products, clothing, blankets and medical supplies, it will also have barber supplies on hand as Hartford barber Miguel Delvalle often works with the team.

“This was one of our longer-term goals, and to have it come to fruition is incredible,” Toth says. “We will quite literally be meeting people where they are in the community.”

Ferrarotti and Toth say the goal is to eventually have one repurposed and branded ambulance in Neighborhood Health regions across Connecticut. This first will stay in the Hartford Region.

Two other ambulances will become mobile training units, one each for the University of New Haven and Hunter’s. Hunter’s “will be the only ambulance company in the state to have a true mobile simulation ambulance,” Ferrarotti says. “It will be used in EMT and paramedic training and as a recruitment tool.”

The fourth ambulance is going to Rushford, a Hartford HealthCare provider of addiction and mental health services, for opiate awareness and prevention programs through the Meriden Opioid Referral for Recovery (MORR) project and others.

The collaboration between Rushford, City of Meriden and Meriden first responders focuses on addressing the opioid crisis through Narcan administration in the field and referrals to specialized MORR staff embedded on Rushford’s Crisis Team. The program is a way for people to receive the treatment they need rather than being incarcerated.

“The ambulance will help people have a greater sense of privacy at these programs,” Ferrarotti says.