New ambulance provides cost-efficient care

You wouldn’t want a car that constantly broke down, but what about an ambulance? One local county says their ambulances are breaking down three to four times per year because some are more than a decade old.

After taking 9,500 calls per year, Jackson County Ambulance Service Director Derek Misener says his crews are prepared for anything. In fact, he says sometimes they’re over-prepared.

"We have these larger box ambulances because we used to carry extrication, what’s commonly referred to as the jaws of life," said Misener. "We quit doing that about 10 years ago because all of the fire departments in the county acquired the training."

With Medicaid reimbursements dwindling, Misener was looking at ways to downsize.

"We looked at these smaller, more fuel efficient ambulances as a way to cut some costs," said Misener. "We’re looking at five more miles per gallon, and that’s significant when we’re going to put 30,000 to 40,000 miles on this ambulance this year."

With an $84,000 price tag, the Mercedes is about $60,000 less than the old Chevrolet or Ford ambulances, which paramedic Tad Thompson says were unreliable.

"Obviously, having the best equipment is going to make it a whole lot easier for us to provide patient care," said Thompson. "We try to keep up with the latest changes and medical advances, and this ambulance is definitely going to allow us to do that."

Thompson says the smaller size of the Mercedes will also allow paramedics to provide better coverage down narrow country roads.

Despite being a foreign made vehicle, the cost of upkeep on the Mercedes is expected to be similar to that of a Chevrolet or Ford ambulance.

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