There’s still a ways to go before our Maritime province finds its path out of this pandemic (stay the blazes home, Nova Scotia). The rollout of vaccination programs shows there is some light at the end of this very long tunnel.
A new initiative are mobile vaccine clinics, helping bring protection against the Covid-19 virus where it otherwise might not reach.
Tri-Star Industries is a vehicle upfitter based in Yarmouth. For nearly five decades, they’ve been building emergency vehicles and custom solutions (think mobile command centres and specialized trailers) for customers around the globe. Forty-five countries, in fact. And, including right here at home, of course.
Their latest project has them working with Nova Scotia Health, who approached them earlier this year to build mobile vaccine units. These vans, built from the bones of a Ram ProMaster, will make the vaccine more accessible to certain groups and is an important part of Nova Scotia’s vaccine rollout.
“We have communities in our province who historically have been difficult to reach or have experienced barriers to accessing health services,” said Premier Iain Rankin in a statement back in March. “One of the first vaccine stops for our mobile units will be to immunize people who use, work, or volunteer at homeless shelters.”
It’s a big deal in a province that prides itself in taking care of its own.
The mobile units can be outfitted with immunization supplies, have the ability to transport and store vaccines at appropriate temperatures, and have network capabilities that permit public health to document vaccine administration in real time.
But what’s under the hood?
Being gearheads, we also wanted to know about the vans being pressed into service for this important work.
Ram’s Fleet Department works with Tri-Star Industries to source ProMaster 3500 vans, a machine that’ll be familiar to anyone hanging around a delivery company or emergency services provider.
The 3500 (or ‘one-ton’ in old-school terms) variants are the strongest mules in the ProMaster stable, carrying suspension bits designed for heavy-duty use. They’re all powered by the tried-and-true 3.6L Pentastar V6, making 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque in this application.
Uniquely, the ProMaster is front-wheel drive on a ladder frame.
Absent bulky drivetrain parts shuttling power to its rear tires, there’s almost five full feet of width between the wheel housings. This permits plenty of space for Tri-Star to make their modifications, outfitting each machine to the specifications required by Nova Scotia Health.
Fun fact: most variants of the Ram ProMaster van have a better departure angle than the mighty Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck.
As for the vital mobile vaxx units, there are also public health nurses assigned to them who can support immunization administration.
“This is an important milestone in our efforts to bring vaccines to every Nova Scotian,” said Dr. Robert Strang, our chief medical officer of health and wearer of the best ties.
Now hitting the streets, the plan is for the mobile units to help deliver vaccines over the coming months.