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Miami Fire Rescue makes history with new armored vehicle

MedCat equipped to withstand hurricane force winds, high water

The city of Miami is making history with a first-of-its-kind armored rescue unit built to withstand winds in excess of 35 mph.

MIAMI – The city of Miami is making history with a first-of-its-kind armored rescue unit built to withstand winds in excess of 35 mph.

The Miami Fire Rescue Department purchased the MedCat after Hurricane Irma.

Firefighters said they had to rescue someone while winds exceeded 35 mph, but regular firetrucks can be dangerous to drive through during those conditions because they can easily flip.

Firefighters said they reached out to the Miami Police Department to borrow its armored vehicle, known as a BearCat, which inspired the MedCat.

"We have eight high-water vehicles, but we did not have something that we were comfortable going beyond our normal wind levels that we would go out in because our firetrucks are large vehicles," Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said. "Although they are heavy vehicles, they are large, and as you've seen on TV, at 60 mph winds, a semi could turn over, so that was one of our concerns."

Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said the city has a policy in place that states that above a certain wind speed, they just don't have the equipment. 

"It's not that our manpower doesn't want to help. We just don't have the tools," he said. "We've always had high water but not high wind vehicles, and so we really wanted to start looking at what we could do to address that."

Zahralban said the MedCat is basically an armored vehicle that can sustain both higher winds and higher water, and is also outfitted for medical use.

"We can use this not only in times of hurricanes, but we can also use it for active shooters and things such as that," he said. "This is how we would get our paramedics into the hot zones safely."