East Hampton Town Police are about to obtain an armored emergency medical response vehicle, via a donation from a wealthy individual, on the condition that his or her name not be publicized. Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo was scheduled to address the East Hampton Town Board about the vehicle during its May 7 work session.
The vehicle is called the MedCat, Sarlo said. “This particular vehicle is spec’d out for tactical medical response, so that our certified tactical paramedic will be able to provide urgent emergency medical care to a civilian or team member during extraction from a volatile situation,” the chief said. It is not an attack vehicle. Rather, the MedCat is “an ambulance that can get directly into a hazardous zone to retrieve someone injured and still in harm’s way.”
He continued, “We plan on training with our local fire departments, and ambulance personnel as well, so that we can work together in a tactical response situation, or in an extreme weather situation, or when possibly the regular ambulance may not be able to access difficult terrain to get to an injured subject.”
Sag Harbor and East Hampton Villages, which are part of the East Hampton Emergency Services Unit, will also be able to access the vehicle.
If a nearby town or village had an active shooter situation, the vehicle would be deployed to the affected jurisdiction as well, the chief said.
Currently, the East Hampton Emergency Services Unit relies on a 20-year-old de-commissioned armored bank vehicle, donated to Sag Harbor Village about 10 years ago. “It is not in good working condition and needs a lot of maintenance,” Sarlo said.
The anonymous donor will be shelling out a little over $300,000 for the MedCat. The chief said that fire districts routinely pay $220,000 or more for standard ambulances, and that a ladder truck can cost a department upwards of $700,000, so the $300,000 the donor is spending is right in line with the standard costs of emergency service vehicles.
Chief Sarlo, along with East Hampton Village Chief Mike Tracy and Sag Harbor Village Chief Austin McGuire, have all spoken with the donor. There will be no cost to the taxpayer, Sarlo said, with a routine maintenance cost no higher than for other vehicles in the department’s fleet, as it is equipped with an F350 chassis and drive train.
Acquiring the MedCat is not part of an effort to militarize the police force, the chief said. Residents won’t see it on patrol, rolling down Main Street. But, with active shooter events becoming increasingly common, “preparedness for a response to a mass casualty incident is something about which we must be realistic.”