World-first truck and trailer combination serves timely reminder for healthchecks

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Heart of Australia has launched its biggest and boldest mobile “clinic-on-wheels”, a 34-wheel, 56-tonne truck-and-trailer combination housing the world’s first battery-powered CT scanner.

As a proud sponsor of the lifesaving initiative, NTI, Australia’s #1 truck insurer, was excited to attend the recent unveiling, knowing all too well how critical health and wellbeing is to the Australian transport industry – especially as a recognised essential service.

The launch serves as a timely reminder for all transport owners and operators to schedule their own health check.

HEART 5, as the new vehicle is named, is a brand-new DAF XF towing a high-tech A-B trailer built by specialist engineering firm Varley Group. The combination vehicle houses multiple cardiology examination rooms capable of undertaking ECG’s, stress tests, and sleep, blood pressure and heart monitoring; as well as X-ray and CT scanner equipment.

The fifth truck in the Heart of Australia fleet features first-of-its-kind solar and battery technology built and designed to power the Philips CT scanner – a challenging task given its massive power requirements.

Heart of Australia Founder, Dr Rolf Gomes says with no need for mains power, the truck can travel to the most remote communities, thereby improving accessibility to cardiac, respiratory and other health examinations.

“What you are seeing is the world’s first battery operated CT scanner. And what that means is we don’t have to be parked somewhere we can plug it in. We don’t have to go to a hospital. It can literally go somewhere and park anywhere, whether that be in a mine site or a cane field, and you can walk up those stairs and get a CT scan done.

“Through the collaboration of the project partners, the Queensland Government, Philips and I-MED, this technology and innovation has been made possible.

“It’s bringing these vital radiology services which we rely so much on in medicine, to people in these areas where previously they would have had to travel a long way to access these services.

“It’s very exciting and really the essence of what mobile health services are all about. These sort of services make healthcare so much more accessible for regional Australians. And if we can find things earlier, if we can treat things earlier, we will eventually keep people healthier and help them live a longer life.

“That in itself is an amazing thing to be able to offer country people.”

Andreas Roost, Philip’s Sales Manager QLD and NT, says the project presented other significant technical challenges, especially minimising vibration on the road. Hence, the CT scanner is bolted to the chassis.

“To get the system in a position to be able to manage that vibration scenario we had to work with Rolf and his team to understand what that might look like, and based on that we had to make certain modifications to the system to be able to handle some of those vibrations,” he says.

HEART 5 is the latest addition to a fleet that also includes four other custom-designed clinic-on-wheels, two driven by Kenworth K200’s, one by a DAF XF 530 prime mover and the third an Isuzu FSD260.

Since 2014, the Heart of Australia fleet has travelled more than 500,000 kilometres servicing regional towns. Its medical specialists have seen more than 12,000 patients and saved more than 500 lives.

In addition to government funding, HEART 5 received significant industry support from Arrow Energy, Brown & Hurley, IOR Petroleum, Philips, and NTI.