Mich. FD anticipates service improvements with new ambulance purchase

The rig will replace an older one that suffered dependability issues, forcing the department to use a rental


Dmitriy Shapiro
The Daily Telegram, Adrian, Mich.

ADRIAN, Mich. — With one of its ambulances suffering from dependability issues, the Adrian Fire Department found itself renting a second ambulance.

To alleviate that problem, the Adrian City Commission last week unanimously approved a bid to purchase a new ambulance, to bring the department up to three.

The Adrian Fire Department is purchasing a new ambulance, hoping to improve service by replacing an older, less dependable rig.
The Adrian Fire Department is purchasing a new ambulance, hoping to improve service by replacing an older, less dependable rig. (Photo/Adrian Fire Department)

Adrian Fire Chief Aric Massingill presented the bids at the commission's premeeting Nov. 16. He recommended going with the highest bid because it best met the department's specifications. The commission went with the highest bid the last time in bought an ambulance, also because it best met the bid specifications.

The highest bid came from Kodiak Emergency Vehicles/Braun Custom Ambulances of Grand Ledge for $343,316. The lowest bid was from R&R Fire Truck Repair/Lifeline Emergency Vehicles of Northville for $323,025. The second-lowest bid was from Holland-based Emergency Vehicles Plus/Road Rescue Ambulance for $339,900.

"We feel with all the research we've done, that going with the cheapest is not the most cost-effective," Massingill said.

Instead, Massingill said the department is looking for an ambulance that would last it the longest through its build quality. The department also has positive experience with an ambulance it currently has from the same manufacturer, Braun.

"The way it's built is everything is welded together, instead of the other manufacturers use a high bonding tape to tape the panels together," he said.

Massingill said that neither of the other ambulances met those specifications.

The ambulance with the lowest build came with six pages of exceptions to the department's specifications and also would have come with wooden cabinets, instead of aluminum like the department specified.

Massingill said wooden cabinets do not last long, and the department could reuse the aluminum cabinets on a new chasis.

"It's all welded. It never deteriorates, breaks down, that sort of thing like the wood cabinets would and you'll have to end up replacing those," Massingill said.

The price of the bid also included the equipment — the stretcher, power load, cardiac monitor and LUCAS device, which does chest compressions on a patient, which frees up paramedics to do other work.

Resident Ken Tokarz spoke during the premeeting expressing his opposition to the purchase, saying he'd rather see the money go to pay off the city's pension deficit, which he said was not being paid off. He also took issue with how much the department is involved in mutual aid to neighboring communities and he expressed concernt hat adding an ambulance would require hiring more fire department employees.

Commissioner Brad Watson asked Massingill whether the department would need to add more staff because of the ambulance's purchase.

Massigill said the plan for the new ambulance is to have a dependable second ambulance to go on calls, using the department's current second ambulance, which is suffering from dependability issues, as a reserve for the one or two times a month the department needs to run a third, simultaneous medical call.

"So we can provide better service to our residents, right? Watson said. "So if we're taking somebody to the hospital we still have a really good, really, really good ambulance on staff. And right now, our current one, might be in the shop because it has 90,000 miles on it and the bumpers are falling off."

The resolution was passed unanimously in the commission's meeting that day.

Massingill said in an interview that funds for the ambulances had already been budgeted for this year, but taken out temporarily during uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. After receiving a grant to pay for COVID-19-related expenses, the department was able to afford the ambulance purchase.

"We're trying to just ensure that we have two ambulances on the road 24/7, 365. ... So having a backup ambulance will ensure that for instances where we have one that's out of service," Massingill said.

He said one ambulance had transmission problems last year, which led to the department renting one. It then took the department awhile to get the rented ambulance licensed with the state.

"This will allow us to put one immediately on the road," he said. "If one goes out of service, we will already have the other one licensed and ready to go on the road. So this gives us that backup that we need in the emergency services."

The commission's action allowed the city to sign the purchase agreement, but receiving the ambulance is still some time away. Massingill said the ambulance has to be designed and built, and the delivery date is unknown due to the pandemic. The normal time from order to delivery is eight months.

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(c)2020 The Daily Telegram, Adrian, Mich.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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