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Ailing ambulances spur $214,000 purchase

Staff writer

Ambulances on the fritz are causing headaches for county emergency medical services and delays for patients.

The county soon will be back up to six ambulances after selling two, shuffling ambulances around, and ordering two new ones.

Ambulance director Curt Hasart told commissioners Monday that a current back-up ambulance temporarily was out of service because it has an air conditioner leak. The repair will cost about $2,800, he said.

Hillsboro ambulance is out of service because it is awaiting work on its computer sensor and brakes. That $2,500 repair will be in addition to $2,022 already spent on maintenance this year, he said.

Marion’s main ambulance remains in service but has ongoing issues, Hasart said. This calendar year alone, the department has spent $2,371 on maintenance and needs another $800 worth of work for heating and air controls.

Peabody ambulance has a leaking rear end and a weak injector. It has served as Hillsboro’s main ambulance in recent days because the main ambulance and spare kept in Hillsboro need work.

A Ford Expedition once used by an ambulance service supervisor was moved to Peabody as a first response vehicle until Peabody’s ambulance is returned.

Tampa ambulance has no reported issues, Hasart said.

An ambulance already on order is scheduled for delivery in October.

Two ambulances were sold through an online equipment auction service. The engine of one was blown and it would have cost $10,000 to repair or $20,000 to replace the engine, Hasart said.

A Florence ambulance that hadn’t been used in years was rehabilitated and became the back-up unit.

A newly built ambulance takes three to four years to get, and no cost estimate is available, Hasart said.

Hasart showed commissioners photos of a new 2023 Chevrolet Arrow ambulance he found on a lot in Iowa. The county could buy the new ambulance for $179,900. It would cost $35,000 extra to have the ambulance marked for Marion County use. The new ambulance would be in addition to the one already on order.

Commissioners approved the purchase. Hasart said he expected to have it in the county in one to two weeks.

Saturday’s ambulance calls demonstrated the problems the ambulance shortage coupled with out-of-county ambulance runs and a shortage of personnel has been causing.

At 10:46 a.m. Saturday, a 37-year-old man was transferred by Marion ambulance from St. Luke to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita with a urology emergency.

As soon as Marion ambulance returned to the county at 1:33 p.m., Hillsboro ambulance, using the Peabody ambulance stationed there because Hillsboro’s ambulances are both out of service, was sent to Hillsboro Community Hospital to transfer a 32-year-old man with cardiac issues to Kansas Heart Hospital in Wichita.

The ambulance did not leave HCH until 2:25 p.m. and returned to Hillsboro at 4:33 p.m.

At 1:52 p.m., a 66-year-old man, initially unresponsive after being trampled by a cow near 130th and Alamo Rds., needed to be taken to NMC Health, formerly Newton Medical Center. Although a Marion ambulance returning from Wichita responded along with first responders from Goessel and Peabody, a Moundridge ambulance took the patient at Hasart’s request.

At 2:20 p.m., Marion ambulance was redirected to a call at Peabody Health and Rehab. It transferred a patient from there to NMC Health and returned to Marion at 4:22 p.m.

Tampa ambulance, the sole remaining ambulance in the county, was ordered at 2:33 p.m. to stand by at the Hillsboro ambulance station until 4:06 p.m. in case of additional calls.

In other business Monday, commissioners hired Sustainable Environmental Consultants of West Des Moines, Iowa, for $9,000 to provide construction inspections for the dam at Marion County Lake. Company inspectors will visit the work four times while repairs are made.

Last modified May 17, 2023

 

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