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West Bloomfield

April 30, 2013

Township upgrades EMS vehicles

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

WEST BLOOMFIELD — In a few months, residents in need of an ambulance may notice a smoother ride to the hospital, after the township Board of Trustees approved the purchase of six new emergency medical services chassis.

During an April 22 meeting, board members agreed 7-0 to the EMS vehicle chassis replacement and remounting, which would save the township more than $500,000 in emergency fleet vehicle costs, EMS Capt. Gregory Flynn told the Beacon recently. 

“We knew that our fleet was aging and we had to come up with a solution for it,” Flynn said. “It is cheaper to just buy a new chassis … and we can complete that process for roughly half the price of buying a complete, brand-new ambulance.”

Capital improvement dollars will be used to fund the vehicle chassis remount and replacement project.

The township board approved a low bid from Bay City-based Rescue Tech Sales LLC for $249,995 to refurbish and remount its five primary EMS fleet vehicles and one reserve EMS vehicle.

Ohio-based Life Star Rescue was the second-lowest bidder at $273,552, with Milan-based Emergency Vehicles Plus coming in as the highest with a bid of $484,000, according to a bid sheet submitted to the council.

Flynn said it will take several weeks for the chassis to be delivered.

“It’s eight to 12 weeks out before we can see our first remount start,” he said.

He said the option to change the chassis was an inexpensive route.

Flynn said a new vehicle could cost anywhere from $170,000-$190,000; a chassis costs about $75,000 per truck. According to an EMS remount details sheet, the total project costs for chassis, remount and contingency funding is $450,000.

“A lot of it just depends on all the bells and whistles put on the truck,” Flynn said. “If everything stays in our projections, we will be able to remount the vehicle and have a new chassis.”

Flynn said Fire Chief Jay Wiseman brought up the idea.

The vehicles are no longer under warranty, Wiseman told the Beacon, “and we can’t anymore. The vehicles are on the road all the time.”

Flynn said that, with long-term planning, the district looked at its options: remount the chassis or purchase a new vehicle.

“Because our patient care compartment was in such good shape, it really made sense to go pay half the price and get a new chassis,” Flynn said.

Flynn said the average age of a township EMS fire truck is 5 years old; the oldest vehicle, a reserve, was purchased in 1998.

“They are all at a point where their maintenance costs start to outweigh replacing the vehicle,” he said. “When you ride in an ambulance, one of the biggest complaints we get isn’t that the paramedics weren’t nice — it isn’t that they didn’t get the care they were supposed to get — it’s about how comfortable they are.

“It is unusual because you are facing backwards, you are lying flat and you are sick, and then we put you in a truck. So it really does have an impact. As the vehicles get older, the ride becomes a little rougher and you try to stay a little bit in front of that so we can continue to maintain high standard of quality and service to the residents we serve.”

Flynn said the patient care components on the back of the ambulances are still “fully functional,” but they need high-functioning chassis to perform the best.

Included in the township board’s vote was to approve that any agreements for the chassis remount project will be signed by Township Clerk Catherine Shaugnessy and Township Supervisor Michelle Economou Ureste.

Wiseman commended Flynn during the meeting for his work on the project.

“This is a considerable savings for the township to take this approach over purchasing new (vehicles),” he told the township board.

Flynn said the vehicles would be fixed during a 90-day timeframe; he hopes they are done between 30 and 60 days.

Rescue Tech Sales LLC will lease to the Fire Department one loaner vehicle while the chassis are remounted.

Learn more about West Bloomfield at www.wbtwp.com or by calling (248) 451-1900.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.