A pretty slick trick was unveiled to the public yesterday by Lincoln Fire & Rescue. Logistics Chief Kendall Warnock and his staff took an old ambulance that had been relegated to backup status, and worked some real magic on it. Our back up ambulances are the rolling stock we bring up when a front-line unit is temporarily out of commission, or when heavy workload requires standing up additional medic units.
The backups are awfully tired iron: they've already served on the front line for more than ten years, and are pushing 200,000 miles. Those miles, however, are accumulated in emergency response, in a lot of stop and go urban driving, and with tons of idling. You could probably double that mileage for a comparison with a vehicle operated in normal driving conditions.
The cost of replacing an ambulance with a comparable new unit would be in the neighborhood of $175,000. Instead, however, the staff remounted the box from the backup unit on an entirely-new Chevy drive train and chassis. Hoist up the box, drive the old truck out, the new one in, and bolt the box back on. Well, not quite. It was really a quite extensive project.
Along with the new drive train, the ambulance got a new wrap and graphics (at half the cost of a paint job), new LED lighting inside and out, new flooring, new upholstery in the back, and a host of other repairs and replacements. The upfitting is really exceptional, and the net cost was about $85K to $100K less than new.
The unit is on the front line now, in order to put some miles on and get some experience before it returns to first-backup status. We will probably do another remount later this year, and if this all proves as successful as it appears at first blush, I expect this will become the standard way we extend the life of our fleet without compromising performance and patient care.
Nice job by all involved!