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by Patty Cheffey
With a time limit and a shortage of new ambulances available to purchase, the Marion County Ambulance District Board of Directors held a special meeting last week, during which they approved the purchase of a demo ambulance.
While a new ambulance had not been planned, Chief John Nemes explained to the board why purchasing the demo model was a good idea at this time.
The current truck maintenance has been an ongoing issue in regards to keeping enough units on hand for operation, Nemes said, and therefore there is currently a huge backlog and long delay in remounting the existing ambulances.
It’s also hard to purchase new ambulances, due to the chip shortage causing a lack of new chassis being available, he added.
Nemes further noted the fleet of ambulance had last been replaced in 2015-2016, and the longevity of a truck is about five years on average.
“We were hoping to put off replacement for another year,” Nemes said. “But with the way things are, we need to get things moving now just to get into the remount rotation and avoid further delay since current delivery timeliness is already running into February of 2022.”
With that in mind, Nemes presented the board with specifications and a quote from Pinnacle Industries for a 2021 Braun Express Plus ambulance, which had been used for demonstration purposes and which was built before the backlog
He added, the district had the option to purchase it before July 8, when the purchasing option went to another customer.
Nemes also noted that after discussions with the supervisors, they were all in agreement that purchasing this truck and modifying the future plan for the current fleet was the most practical and timely approach to begin the replacement process.
Under the revised plan, the larger existing ambulances will be used for primary response and the two mid-size ambulance currently in the fleet will be used for reserve, routine transfers and stand-by events.
The purchase of the demo model gives the district a third mid-size ambulance, allowing for one at each of the bases.
After a little more discussion and a review of the specs, a motion was made by Branson Wells to purchase the demo ambulance for $179,500 and to proceed with remounting plans for the larger trucks, followed with a second by Brian Fowler. A roll call vote was taken and the purchase unanimously approved by all.
The board also held a closed session to discuss personnel.