Visitors to this year's Canfield Fair got a glimpse of a new vehicle that will soon be in operation in Austintown. The new Falcon Mobile Med vehicle was on display next to the education building.
The vehicle was purchased through a $500,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant was written by Jan Gorsuch and Barb Kliner.
"We were one of six school districts in the country to get the grant," Kliner said. "The grant totally paid for the unit and the equipment that will go into it."
Austintown Board of Education members Dr. David Ritchie and Dr. Tom Stellers, were joined by board treasurer Mary Ann Herschel and medical interns Abdul Ghanem and Roman Davidenko as the school district showcased the new Falcon Mobile Med vehicle during this year’s Canfield Fair.
The cost of the vehicle alone was $350,000. It weighs less than 26,000 pounds, measures 38 feet long with a wheelbase of 248 inches. It is powered by a Cummins 300-hp engine and has an 80-gallon gas tank.
The unit has a 20-feet-by-8-feet retractable awning that automatically closes when wind speed gets too high. It also has a retractable tip-out that provides additional seating inside.
The back and front of the vehicle has exam rooms complete with medical exam tables and medical equipment. The rear exam room is also lead-lined to allow for an x-ray machine. It is also equipped with a wheelchair lift.
Austintown School Board member Dr. David Ritchie said at present the school district has partnered for medical services.
"Valley Care is staffing our schools with seven medical assistants and one practitioner," Ritchie said. "They will be helping us with the Falcon Mobile Med as well."
He said the new vehicle will have three primary purposes. It will be used to provide services to Austintown students, will be available for sporting events, and will be used to provide community outreach. The outreach programs may include flu shot clinics, immunization clinics, and educational opportunities.
School board member Dr. Tom Stellers said the new vehicle may also be part of a new educational opportunity for Fitch students. He said the board is considering an academy at Fitch that could offer a degree in the medical field.
"Youngstown State University is helping us design a program," Stellers said. "Graduates could earn an associate degree right on our campus."
The program would use the vehicle to teach in some of four academic areas that include HS3 (health, science and hospitality), BELLE (business, education, law, leadership, and entrepreneurship), STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and CAP (creativity, artistry and performance).
One other area where the vehicle could be used is in local disasters. It can serves as a sort of rolling hospital or clinic wherever it goes.
Kliner said the Falcon Mobile Med vehicle is being built by Farber Specialty Vehicles in Columbus. While the vehicle cost was only $350,000, the balance of the grant is paying for the equipment that is going into it, including the x-ray machine. Kliner said there is still some equipment that needs to be installed by Farber, but they were willing to drive it to the Canfield Fair and put it on display for people to see.
"After the fair, it will go back to Columbus for completion," Kliner said.
She said it will be delivered to the school district in a short time and will appear at football games and other sporting events.
"The really nice thing about it is the fact it doesn't cost the taxpayers a penny," Kliner said. "It is all covered under the federal grant."