Published: Jun 19, 2014 10:27 AM EDT

Collier County, Fla., - A new device that just arrived in Collier County could help save lives in a disaster.

"Every Emergency Manager is working on building mass casualty capabilities," said Dan Summers, Collier County's Bureau of Emergency Services Director.

The county purchased a multi-patient ambulance.  It is just one of only three in Florida and one of 60 across the country.  It can transport up to twelve patients at a time.

"It was the right for Collier County," said Summers.  "There's not a lot of resources close by and building local capabilities is most important."

Collier County is a unique area.  Its a coastal community that faces evacuations during a hurricane.  The first responders assist with accidents along busy Alligator Alley and its home to about 25 hundred people living in local nursing homes and hospitals. 

Wink News found out when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, first responders in New Jersey used 14 of these ambulances to help evacuate elderly patients.

"When nursing homes and rest homes did not fulfill their obligations of evacuating their patients with their own plans this became a backup resource," said Summers.

The ambulance cost $422 thousand and was paid for by state and federal grants. It has dozens of capabilities.  They include providing medical assistance for firefighters on scene suffering from heat stress and treating patients at large events like concerts and food festivals  The ambulance also has wireless ekg, blood pressure and oxygen monitoring so first responders can track the vital signs of bomb technicians up to a thousand feet away.

The ambulance is expected to be up and running in the next couple of weeks.