LEWIS - The Elizabethtown-Lewis Emergency Squad is now better equipped to serve the communities it covers.
The crew of first responders recently purchased a new ambulance to replace the older of two in its fleet. It has already been used on more than a dozen calls since being put into service July 24.
"Our goal was to have it in service in time for Ironman because the other vehicle was going to be in Lake Placid," explained Larry Bashaw, ambulance committee chairman for the squad.
The ambulance replaces one that had been in service for nearly 13 years and was becoming sidelined for maintenance more frequently. The new one is larger to help provide better care and comfort to patients.
"Basically what we're doing is bringing the ER to the patient," said Bashaw. "That means we need as much room as possible in the patient area. We needed to have a larger box to do it adequately."
The squad also chose the larger F-series chassis for its use of a more fuel efficient diesel engine, which was no longer available for smaller Econoline model builds.
Because the new ambulance is one-and-a-half feet taller and longer than the older model, Bashaw wants to remind local residents to be mindful of low-hanging trees and other potential obstacles on their property.
"Regardless of whether it's a fire truck or an ambulance, it's important to have good clearance to prevent those vehicles from being damaged," Bashaw said.
Having a clear path ensures a quick response and prevents the need for repairs to the vehicle, the cost of which ultimately falls to taxpayers, said Bashaw.
The new vehicle cost more than $178,000 and arrived in late June. Costs were offset somewhat by the sale of the older ambulance and a $6,000 Ford Fleet grant.
Not only is the vehicle more spacious, but it's been custom-fitted with some of the most up-to-date technology and equipment.
Unlike the older model, the newer ambulance features Air-Ride suspension for the smoothest ride possible. It is built with inside-outside cabinets so technicians can access equipment from both the interior and exterior.
Inside the box, an IV warmer helps ensure fluids are the right temperature. LED lighting illuminates the cabin while using minimal electricity and controlled air vents circulate warm or cold air efficiently.
Seats are equipped with five-point harnesses, and one even converts into a child safety seat for young passengers. Other measures, such as a drop-down step to the side entrance, help prevent injury to EMTs, many of whom are seniors themselves.
"It's really important when we go out on a call that we're able to come back without being injured," said Bashaw, noting how the squad has barely enough members to provide coverage throughout each week.
Coverage was becoming so difficult in fact, the squad hired a full-time paid EMT to ensure someone was on duty every weekday during business hours. Susie Saska, who had been a volunteer with the squad for several years, was hired July 1.
The squad is always searching for more volunteers, and even teens are encouraged to join as part of their Junior Member program.
"If they're looking to go on to medical school, it's a great place to start," said Bashaw.
For more information, contact Bashaw at 873-7379.