By Clint Confehr
Senior Staff Writer
Marshall County's Emergency Medical Services director has what amounts to a new ambulance in service at a cost that's a fifth to a third less than what he might expect to have paid.
"To get one like that, brand new, it would be closer to about $125,000," EMS Director Bill Reuter said of the ambulance a few steps from his office on South Ellington Parkway. "You can get a smaller unit for right at $100,000."
Instead, Reuter paid $79,650. He traded in an old chassis, and bought a new Chevrolet 4500 chassis. Select Tech of Shelbyville refurbished the old patient module and mounted it on the new frame. EMS paid $101,000 for a new ambulance in January 2012.
Improving the EMS fleet has been a priority of Marshall County Commission's EMS Committee. Commissioners were dismayed with unreliable ambulances. Sometimes, a patient had to be moved from one ambulance to another because of mechanical failure.
Mechanical failures still happen, Reuter said, but they're less frequent even though the vehicles still log many miles each year.
"The one-year-old ambulance has about 48,000 miles on it now," Reuter said.
MCEMS switched from Ford to Chevrolet this year because "Ford is not offering diesel in a 'cut-away,'" the director said.
Such a chassis is shorter, thereby leaving more room in the vehicle bay.
Reuter might have selected a Ford truck chassis, but the Ford is higher. The ambulance service has had ambulances that high from the ground, but have installed devices that lower the module where a patient is loaded into the ambulance.
"It caused us trouble with maintenance," Reuter said.
MCEMS budgeted money for the ambulance.
"The surprise was the savings," Reuter said. "It was about $20,000 less than expected because we chose to go with a re-mount, instead of a new ambulance."
The MCEMS budget is about $2.3 million this year. Some $1.5 million of revenue is billed for services.
"We don't need any more ambulances and we're fully staffed," Reuter said.
MCEMS took delivery of the new ambulance chassis and refurbished module on Feb. 5. It was put into service one week ago today.