19 November 2009
This is one of the best disabled friendly cars I have ever seen. It’s called the Penrith Carer Car and has been imported from Japan by Rossco Hutchison with the help of his mate Al Palmer of Al Palmer Repairs Penrith (http://www.alpalmer.com/Products/Porte.html ) and also Jim Aitken who is the patron of the Carer Car, the car is to operate in the local Penrith area to help sick and disabled people travel to and from hospital, appointments or outings with very little effort.
It’s the first car of its kind in the Australia. I was privileged enough to speak with Rossco to ask him all the questions that I wanted answered about this car. When I first heard about it, I thought that it sounded like the idea had been done before, but when I actually saw the car in action and was lucky enough to have a ride around in the chair, I definitely changed my mind and am even happier to be telling everyone about this amazing car.
It is made from a Toyota Yaris that has been slightly modified, called a Toyota Porté, it has been stretched and had an automatic sliding door installed replacing the whole left side of the car, this door opens on its own with one lift of the handle.
Inside, the passenger seat looks like a normal car seat, just part of the car, but here’s the amazing part. It swivels around with the touch of a control, pointing the person’s feet out of the door, then lowers out of the car on a track reaching the ground, then dislodges itself and the chair can then be operated as an electric wheelchair. It can be driven for several kilometres before running out of battery and if the passenger cannot control the chair themselves, it can also be power assisted by the carer from the back to be driven manually. Let me tell you, I have used electric wheelchairs before and this is one of the smoothest chairs I have ever driven.
The car is fully manufactured and designed in Japan and costs around $55,000 which considering how much disabled modifications can cost is quite reasonable for a brand new car.
It is operated by an electric powered hydraulic system and has revolutionised the way car’s can be modified for the disabled.
The Porté can carry up to 4 people and even has capability to store a fold able manual wheelchair in the boot that gets lifted in by a hoist, this has all been designed to eliminate lifting and straining for the carer of a disabled person. I can tell you, this would’ve been very useful to my family when I was growing up, travelling to and from hospital in a normal car isn’t fun with broken bones, trying to get manoeuvred in and out of the car can be very painful and very straining for the person doing the lifting. I know my mum suffered some back problems from lifting me in and out of the car all the time. The Porté allows the patient to be put in the car at an angle that is comfortable for them and then the car seat swivels to the normal car position whilst still allowing all the standard safety equipment to operate such as the seatbelt and air-bags.
Rossco, who is among other things, a disc jockey for Vintage FM 87.6, hopes that this car will help a lot of people in the area, such as cancer patients and the disabled, he even says it will be a great help in nursing homes and retirement villages.
He wants to use trained Rotarian's and carers to drive the car around, there will be a small fee involved with using the car but they will be accepting small donations if the passenger cannot afford the trip. This is to help with the cars maintenance and running costs.
Rossco decided to bring this car to Australia after he saw a friend had purchased one to assist with a family member.
Rossco is a Reverend Minister at the Sacred Church of The Holy Spirit and has always loved helping people in the community, he was quoted saying ‘It’s not about me, it’s about what it does for other people’, this car and the ideas behind it just show how much he truly does want to help others.
He has a long list of accomplishments in his life that include; stuntman, dancer, ballet master, horse whisperer, former president of Rotary, support team for the John Mclean Foundation K2K Ride, gymnastics coach, healer, masseuse and harness horse racing, and that’s not all of them.
Rossco, together with his support team, who he has named ‘Team Rossco’, put together fundraising events to raise money to purchase the car, these included a trivia night, a parade with the Carer Car down High Street in Penrith, a dinner dance, they appeared with the Carer Car at the Penrith Show and held a harness horse racing night. Altogether they raised almost the total amount of the cars cost in just two months. Rossco said he could not have done it without the help of Jim Aitken, the Sir Roden Cutler Foundation, Al Palmer, Vintage FM, Team Rossco and of course the community who attended the fundraising events.
Ross hopes to purchase up to 12 cars for the Penrith area and will most likely be holding more fundraising events in the future. If you would like to speak to Rossco about organising a fundraising event, donating funds or if you want to see the car for yourself in person, go to http://www.penrithcarercarproject.org.au/ to check out more details or contact me and I will get him to call you.