An ambulance is sometimes the only barrier between life and death in rural areas like Cavalier County. Having an ambulance that the EMTs and medical staff can depend on is paramount to their success in helping those in medical need.
By Melissa Anderson
The Langdon Ambulance Service, up until recently, had two ambulances that were quickly reaching their end-of-life for use. Langdon Ambulance director Lindsay Gellner explained that multiple studies conducted in 2009 found that the average lifespan of an ambulance is only 6-8 years. Studies have also found that no matter how well the ambulance is maintained and repaired, its reliability after 100,000 miles decreases significantly.
“It is essential that we have two reliable ambulances in order to serve the community properly,” Gellner said.
The oldest ambulance that was just replaced was a 2007 model with almost 150,000 miles on it. After 10 years of use and so many miles, it was no wonder that this ambulance began being unreliable for the service to use. The second ambulance is a 2009 model and has approximately 80,000 miles, which put additional stress on the service as there was always the chance of breakdowns. This ambulance is also needing to be replaced.
“It is essential to have dependable ambulances so that we are able to respond timely and adequately to patients when they are in need. If we have one ambulance down due to maintenance issues, we are unable to do transfers because we cannot leave the town without an ambulance,” Gellner stated. “Also, if we break down on the way to a call or on the way to the hospital then we delay the patient getting to definitive care which could be critical for them.”
The new ambulance , a 2018 Ford F-550/Horton Type I Ambulance, was purchased using mill levy money and donations. The ambulance service has been striving to raise money through fundraisers that are held, such as trivia night and the spaghetti feed, for a few years now.
The new vehicle was ordered and purchased from Premier Specialty Vehicles in Fergus Falls, Minn. It is already pulling its own weight in assisting with calls as it went into service on November 13 and has already been used several times.
“We did have several quotes for ambulances from three different dealers. We chose this one because it had all the qualities that we wanted including a step on the side door, harnesses for seatbelts, and 4-wheel drive,” Gellner shared.
The biggest difference between the new ambulance and the one it replaced is that the new one is 4-wheel drive which will help the ambulance service significantly when the roads are bad. The new one is also a type I ambulance while the old one was a type III ambulance, hence why they look different. The type I ambulance is on a pickup chassis so that it can be 4-wheel drive while a type III ambulance is mounted on a cut-a-way van chassis.
“The 4-wheel drive was a big reason why we picked the ambulance that we did. We had never had a 4-wheel drive ambulance before, and with the roads that we travel on sometimes, they are not easily accessible with 2-wheel drive,” Gellner stated.
Thus far, the 16 members and staff of the Langdon Ambulance Service are enjoying having a top knotch vehicle for emergencies. The vehicle can hold two passengers in the front, six people in the back – who will be able to travel in safety thanks to harness seatbelts- and, of course, the cot.
“The ambulance crew likes it. Their favorite aspect of it is that it is 4-wheel drive. They also like the touch screen that runs the lights, oxygen, etc.,” Gellner shared.
Now that one ambulance has been replaced, the service will still continue to raise funds to replace the second. They are also looking well into the future to ensure they never find themselves in this situation of having two ambulances in use past their depreciation expiration.
“I want the community to be aware that we are not done fundraising for our cause even though we have a new ambulance,” Gellner explained. “We will continue fundraising and having our annual trivia night even after both ambulances are purchased because we don’t want to get into a spot again where we need two new ambulances at the same time and lack the funds for it. We want to be able to have funds available so that we can replace the ambulances on a regular basis before they reach the point where they are not reliable.”
The next goal for the service is to raise funds to replace the 2009 model ambulance that is still being used. The Langdon Ambulance Service is looking forward to their second annual trivia night which is scheduled for March 23, 2019, at the Eagles.