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Hospital seeks to replace 2 ambulances in 2020

Hospital seeks to replace 2 ambulances in 2020
Hospital seeks to replace 2 ambulances in 2020
Tashana Campbell, left, and Cameron White check supplies in an ambulance yesterday morning (Tuesday) at the EMS station on the Harrison County Hospital campus in Corydon. HCH EMS manager Joe Squier is seeking to purchase two new ambulances this year to replace ones that have more than 200,000 miles. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

Harrison County Hospital is back in front of the Harrison County Council to stick to a plan that was discussed in late 2018 to address purchasing new ambulances. After getting one new ambulance late that year, leaders at the hospital want topurchase two new ones for 2020.

The request is under review with the county council, which could approve the funds at its next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Government Center in Corydon.

The total cost of two ambulances would be approximately $500,000.

In 2018, the hospital requested one new ambulance following what would have appeared to be a minor crash. The ambulance’s driver hit a light pole in the JayC parking lot at a low-rate of speed. However, insurance adjusters determined the ambulance to be a total loss.

It was determined then that it would be best to form a plan to better prepare the council for future requests.

Harrison County Hospital EMS manager Joe Squier said his department would likely need four new ambulances every three years and eventually could reuse the “boxes” EMS staff use for runs and only replace the vehicle.

The plan includes requesting one ambulance each year and requesting a second ambulance once out of every three years.

This month, Squier brought quotes from three vendors and recommended the most expensive estimate, from Osage Ambulance.

“We did speak to the hospital board,” Squier said. “We really like the Osage Ambulance. I know it’s the most expensive, but I think we would be getting more value for our dollar.”

The department’s two newest ambulances came from the same vendor, which Squier said hasn’t been impressive. The newest ambulance was put into service two months late because the truck wasn’t put together correctly when HCH EMS staff showed up to pick up the new unit.

“We’ve had a lot of problems out of the last two we’ve bought,” he said.

Squier said Osage provides a customizable ambulance with compartment options and sizes to go in all corners of the ambulance. The hospital’s vendor for its last two ambulances, which has provided ambulances to the hospital since 2002, has yet to meet with Squier in person.

The two new ambulances would replace the two most costly units. One costs about 35 cents per mile to operate, and the other is roughly 30 cents per mile. The newest unit runs approximately at 7 cents a mile. Overall, the department traveled approximately 264,000 miles during the last year.

Maintenance fees were a big expense in 2019, with transmission and other repairs.

“In 2019, we spent just shy of $60,000 in maintenance costs for our fleet,” Squier said.

The number of runs and mileage have gone up during the past decade. Squier provided the council with an overall number of runs in 2018 and should have 2019 data available in the next few months.

The Osage ambulances would allow HCH to remount the boxes onto new vehicles once the fleet is made up entirely of that vendor, if it’s selected. Remounting an ambulance box, where EMS staff work out of on runs, can save approximately $30,000.

HCH CEO Steve Taylor said the two ambulances do not need to be ordered at the same time, but he would prefer both to be in service before the end of 2020.

“If we replace two of them, that would give all of our front-line trucks under 200,000 miles,” Squier said. “That 200,000 (mark) is kind of that magic number where it just seems like things start to go wrong with ambulances more and more.”

If nothing unexpected happens and this request is approved, Squier said he anticipates returning to the council in 2021 and 2022 to ask for one ambulance each of those years.

Harrison County EMS runs an eight-ambulance fleet throughout the county, and stations include back-up units to allow EMS personnel to perform preventative maintenance without taking a station out of service.