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Sunday 26 October 2014

Dundalk firm kit out world's first ambulance for kids

Olivia Ryan

Published 11/09/2013 | 05:20

Tony Heffernan, founder of the Saoirse Foundation with Greg Clifford from Techfit.

IT was a world first for Dundalk firm 'Techfit' who kitted out the new 'Bumbleance', a specially designed ambulance for transporting sick children.

Brothers Greg and Cormac Clifford, who set up their company at Finnabair Business Park in 2009, put their brains to work on the interactive emergency vehicle which is fully equipped with the latest multi media devices.

Greg explained how they became involved in the plans to design the world's first children's ambulance.

'The Bumbleance is the brainchild of Tony Heffernan, who along with his wife Mary founded the Saoirse Foundation in March 2010 after their late daughter Saoirse, who passed away in Jan 2011 from Batten's disease.'

After seeing the distress their late daughter experienced when being taken on many ambulance journeys to hospital, Tony set about creating a 'child friendly' emergency vehicle.

'Our company (Techfit) usually focus on home automation systems. When Tony asked us to get involved in kitting out the ambulance, myself and Cormac were just delighted,' said Greg.

'The vehicle itself is a world first, as there is nothing like it in any other country. But it was a first for us as well, because we have never worked on fitting out a moving vehicle before!'

Designed to look like a bumblebee on the outside, the ambulance is fitted with the latest AV equipment inter-connected onboard via a 'Control 4' system which allows the child to operate the 19-inch LED TV, DVD, iPad, Nubi, and Sony PlayStation console. It also has a full library of films, apps, e-books, music and games available, from the comfort of the latest Ferno stretcher.

'The on-board dual channel WiFi allows internet browsing, social media engagement as well as Skype calls to be made to anywhere in the world,' added Greg.

'Members of the public can also message or tweet their best wishes to the child on-board, who can track their progress using satellite monitoring.'

The 132-registered vehicle will be used to transport sick children to scheduled appointments between home and the various National Treatment Centres and Hospice /Respite Centres.

Bumbleance has partnered with Lifeline Ambulance Service, which will provide paramedics for the transport service.

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