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  • Specing a New Ambulance

    Two years ago we purchased an International/LifeLine Ambulance and we are currently looking at replacing one of our two backup Freightliner/LifeLines. We are very happy with both the chassis and Lifeline work but are looking for any suggestions or comments you may have on ideas for a new ambulance. We will be sticking with pretty much the same spec but will be changing a few things here and there and adding a few things.

    So if anyone has recently spec'd out an ambulance (especially medium duty) or bought one, what would you do differently or what do you guys love that you would do again?
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    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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  • #2
    One of the best things we put on out new ambulances (FL M2 with MedTec boxes) are hydraulic H-tank lifts. Raise a lever and press a button and the H-tank comes out and down to ground level, much safer for our crews. We also upped our scene lighting and got mounts for our monitors to be secured in while transporting.

    One thing that I proposed but was rejected was actaully changing the bench seat to where there is essentially a Captain's chair where the bench would be that pivots so the attendant can remained secured while transporting the patient and a short bench beside that. MedTec has the "Action Safe" interior and Crestline has a similar set-up. You would retain the ability to transport 2 patients if necessary but also would be able to be well restrained while also fully able to provide care as the seat pivots and slides closer to the patient and you can set up your supplies so that most everything you need is within reach while restrained.

    Well worth a look in my opinion. I would also like an automated compression device so that we don't have unrestrained personnel performing CPR while driving emergency. Be worlds safer, how we get away with what we do is beyond me.

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    • #3
      We took delivery of a GMC/Lifeline ***** box last year. And even if i liked the ambulance side of things, I would still tell you its a piece of junk. Not to mention a waste of money. There is nothing wrong with the "common" sized truck and van cabs. I personally don't feel it was worth the extra money (about 40K) On top of that the thing sounds like a bucket of bolts. electrical problems, O2 plumbing problems and mechanical issues. If it were up to me I'd do away with the meat wagon in house all together, but since thats not going to happen, I can say i would never buy another life line or one of the monster GMC cabs.
      It takes a little intelligence to enjoy humor,satire & wit, but none to be offended by it.

      It take more than a new Leather Helmet to make you a good officer

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      • #4
        All of our medics are built on FL (with MedicMaster bodies) or International (with PL Custom bodies) chassis. We have twelve in front-line service with about 5 in reserve status.

        While I don't mind the medium duty chassis, I think that we could probably get by with an E450 or F450 chassis. However, due to our call volume, our jurisdiction's fleet maintenance division mandates that we use the heavy chassis. Not necessairly a bad thing, considering we have some front line units with 225,000 miles on them...the medic at my station can easily do a dozen runs a day.

        The box design & layout we're using was developed in 2000, and with exception of a few minor layout changes, we've stuck with the same exact layout, even when we switched manufacturers. Here's a link if you'd like an idea. We're going up the 2nd or 3rd week of February to pick up another one.

        Up to this point, we've been purchasing off a neighboring department's contract, but I feel as though we'll be going out to bid for our next purchases. The PL Custom isn't bad at all, and the folks in Manasquan have been great to work with, but there are times where the value for the money spent might not be there.

        Some of the things we've noticed or done:
        • The International's give a stiffer ride in the back than the FL's do. If we elect to stick with the International's, we'll be moving the fuel tank to the rear behind the frame rails to add some weight to the rear and improve the ride.
        • We've been using rear back-up cameras for a long time, and we're going to be adding one in the patient compartment (facing the rear of the unit) so we can ensure provider safety in the back.
        • We're doing away with the lightbars on the front and back. We'll be doing five Whelen M9's on the front and rear of the box. Huge cost savings.
        • We've toyed with the idea of moving the seating arrangements in the box, but right now, it works really well for us, and we're going to stick with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" way of thinking.
        • There's a substantial difference in the box height and ride if you do a 22.5" tire and wheel. Little old ladies can find it difficult to get in and out.


        There are a number of LifeLines in service in our area, and the agencies using them are repeat customers. I hope that the situation that RoofTop has encountered is exclusive to Monroeville.

        Just some things off the top of my head...feel free to PM me if you think of any other questions.
        Career Fire Captain
        Volunteer Chief Officer


        Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

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        • #5
          Thanks for the suggestions guys.

          Rooftop- Sorry to hear about your bad luck with Lifeline. We beat ours up pretty good but try to take great care of them. (Not saying you guys don't! )

          We currently have the hydraulic oxygen tank lifts and I can agree with you that they are the $hit!

          Most of the busy departments around here including Toledo Fire and Lucas County EMS all have the medium duty chassis and we have been using them for 15 plus years.

          Moving the fuel tank from under the cab to the rear sounds like a pretty good idea. Would be interested in pictures or build drawings showing it.

          I also like the backup camera/cab camera idea..... gonna have to bring that one up at the next committee meeting.

          We have also been looking at moving the A/C compressor from underneath the hood to above the cab as some area departments have had much better use and less maintenance with this positioning.
          ------------------------------------
          These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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          Comment


          • #6
            RFRD- Glad to hear you are going with Lifeline. Represent my city. I might have to go take a look at your ambulance once its in production seeing as the plant is a half-mile from my home. Their old plant is a block away. Just so you know, I helped install the paint booths and other equipment in which your ambulance will be painted. It will also helped be assembled by one of our captains, and about 4 other firefighters. If you guys come out to pick it up, see if you can tag along. I think you'll be surprised as to where these things are built.

            RoofTop- From what I've heard, you are of a minority with the problems. I saw you said it was built on a GMC chassis, if I'm not mistake they build most of their ambulances on Fords (Which is too bad). Not trying to justify the problems you have, but the company went through some drastic changes last year with the loss of their co-founder and CEO unexpectedly. I knew him personally, and he was a hell of a guy. It was a sad, sad day in our small town when he passed away.

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            • #7
              CGITCH- I should say that I THINK we are going with Lifeline.... nothing has been set in stone but I can't see us even looking at any other manufacturers after the luck we've had with our current 3. Not sure if the others before them were Lifeline or not.

              And on the GMC chassis, Lucas County EMS, a large county based system running tens of thousands of calls bought 6 or 8 ambulances on the GMC chassis and had nothing but problems with them as well. Can't say for sure if it was a chassis or box problem, but I know there were plenty of problems with both. I do not remember who built their rigs though.
              ------------------------------------
              These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
              ------------------------------------

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CastelJ View Post

                One thing that I proposed but was rejected was actaully changing the bench seat to where there is essentially a Captain's chair where the bench would be that pivots so the attendant can remained secured while transporting the patient and a short bench beside that.
                Our last bus has this set up with mixed reviews. Everyone wanted it for safety, but almost never does anyone ride facing forward, and the seatbelt system is restricting enough that many would rather ride the old rigs.

                Comment


                • #9
                  On our third Lifeline with Ford E-450's. Only problem we have had has been the inverter. Other than that, everything seems to go pretty good for us, and our service from Pfund Superior Sales has always been everything we have ever neeeded and more. They have taken good care of us.

                  Our last squad was spec'ed out by a committee, and our members have been really pleased with it instead of the typical cookie cutter type squad. Took one bench and had a Medic area installed with all lockable compartments for drugs and IV supplies. Easy access. Had the monitor mounted in that area for ease of use and had charger system for batteries installed in comaprtment underneath of it. We also had additional outlets installed as well as a refrigerator we use for Rehab at fires.

                  In addition, we had back up cameras installed, and HID lights on the back and sides for additional brightness at scenes and for loading. Got the Hydraulic O2 system, lightstick on the back, driving and fog lights, Child seat within the captains chair, and heating/warmer compartment for solutions and blankets.

                  Only other things were the onpspot chains, Double side windows with sliders that are able to be written on, and an RV step on the curbside door for us old folks to gain access easier.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RFRDxplorer View Post
                    CGITCH- I should say that I THINK we are going with Lifeline.... nothing has been set in stone but I can't see us even looking at any other manufacturers after the luck we've had with our current 3. Not sure if the others before them were Lifeline or not.

                    And on the GMC chassis, Lucas County EMS, a large county based system running tens of thousands of calls bought 6 or 8 ambulances on the GMC chassis and had nothing but problems with them as well. Can't say for sure if it was a chassis or box problem, but I know there were plenty of problems with both. I do not remember who built their rigs though.
                    What is your department's name? I'll have to see if any of the guys remember building your rigs. And I'm glad that you have had such good luck with them. That company is our largest employer in the town now, as we just had our other major industrial facility move their production to Mexico.

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                    • #11
                      We have three medium duty International ambulances. Nothing against the Freightliners just better dealer service with International. Our last one we bought was a Horton. We also have the O2 cylinder lift, makes it much easier. On this one we had a small fridge and a heated compartment inside the box. We are expecting to carry some meds which will require the fridge and the warming compartment is used for warming IV fluids in the winter. We also started using the light wall instead of a light bar. One of the things that we have done is to cover the front in diamond plate instead of paint. When we painted the front the guys would not wash the front well enough and the bugs would damage the paint. The Internationals now are using a stack exhaust to the rear of the passenger door, I think this might be a good thing depending on the exhaust removal system at the station.

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                      • #12
                        I would put a Brow light on it. we have the Whelen Pioneers and you can turn the night into day with those things. The camera is also a must. I would also take a look at the proposed NFPA 1917 draft for Ambulances and se if you can meet some of the requirments now.

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                        • #13
                          If you really want something different, try this.



                          http://www.faulknerisuzu.com/dsp_custom.cfm?id=3
                          Steve Dragon
                          FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
                          Volunteers are never "off duty".
                          http://www.bufd7.org

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dragonfyre View Post
                            If you really want something different, try this.
                            http://www.faulknerisuzu.com/dsp_custom.cfm?id=3
                            Weird looking ambulance, but interesting concept. Nice body on it too...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CGITCH View Post
                              Weird looking ambulance, but interesting concept. Nice body on it too...
                              It is a Lifeline body.
                              Steve Dragon
                              FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
                              Volunteers are never "off duty".
                              http://www.bufd7.org

                              Comment

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