*This story first appeared in The Budget’s May 16, 2018, Local Edition.
By Beverly Keller
Areas served by Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue will see a new and improved Squad 1010 if they call for EMS.
The unit was delivered May 8 at 1 p.m. and was in service on its first call at 6 p.m. “This unit has everything we need on board,” explained paramedic Cody Shetler who was part of the six-member team from Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue that customized the unit. “This ambulance is a Type 1. It is built on a truck chassis with the box as a separate piece. It is four-wheel drive with a chassis that is capable of getting us back all of the long lanes in this service area no matter what the weather.”
The Life Line Brand vehicle cost $215,000 and was built in Iowa and shipped to Sugarcreek after the crew signed off on every last detail. “This unit is completely custom with the most critical patient in mind,” Shetler shared. “There are seats on three sides of the cot that have four-point harness systems that allow reach across the entire patient while keeping them safe. We picked out everything from the flooring to the handles to how and where things are mounted.”
Shetler noted that the group which included Fire Chief Dr. Kevin Miller as well as full and part-time members of the department met monthly from August – December 2017 to come up with the plan. “Every month, we’d get together and go over the blueprint together, make changes and send it back,” he said. “The ability to give life-saving care to our patients was paramount in this process.”
The new unit looks much different than the former Squad 1010 because it was built differently. Shetler noted that one of the first things people will notice about the ambulance is its size. The 2017 Ford F-450 is four-wheel drive and runs on diesel.
The second thing many have noticed is the large bumper. While a bumper might not seem like a necessity for an ambulance, it is for Sugarcreek. “That steel bumper was an upgrade because we didn’t want to have a deer taking us out of service,” Shetler explained.
Another upgrade included lighting that can be switched from white to red at night inside the box to ensure the best patient care without blinding the driver. “All of our outside lighting and striping is up to date to keep us safer on the road if we are on the scene of an accident,” he said.
A new compartment that contains basic gear is also part of the outside of the truck. “This way, we have our gear in case we need it,” Shetler said. “There are axes and pry bars and crash bags in case we need to stabilize the scene of an accident. Soon, we will also be carrying an electric combination tool that is basically a battery- operated hydraulic mini jaws of life to allow us to cut into a vehicle if we need to do so.”
In addition, a compartment with everything needed to enter a home including a trauma bag is located on the truck to allow medics to get exactly what they need when they need it.
Inside the ambulance, there are many tools to assist medics in their quest to deliver the best life-saving care possible. “The cot is new and different,” Shetler said. “It is an electric cot and can lift up to 700 pounds on its own. That is safer for all of us who are involved and will save our backs as well as Workers Compensation claims.”
Drawers have replaced cabinets for ease of use for storing supplies. The unit also has a medicine refrigerator to allow drugs to be kept at the proper temperature when needed. In addition, the truck was equipped with a remote searchlight on top. “This light can be used at night if we are in a field or if we are searching for an address,” Shetler explained.
With its upgrades and safety options, the new ambulance is anything but typical. “This is a custom design from the door handles to the harness system,” Shetler said. “This is not a cookie cutter ambulance. We designed it from top to bottom and got exactly what we wanted and needed to provide the best patient care available.”
However, Shetler was quick to point out that the ambulance is more than just part of Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue. “This truck is the community’s truck,” he said. “We are privileged to work on it on a daily basis to serve the community.”
He noted that anyone is invited to stop in at the Sugarcreek Fire Station on North Broadway. “If the doors are open, we are there,” Shetler shared. “If the doors aren’t open and we aren’t on a call, ring the doorbell. We’d love to show anyone who would like to see the ambulance just how functional and safe it is. That goes for all our vehicles. They belong to the community, and we want everyone to know that we have vehicles that will get us to the scene safely.”
Mayor Clayton Weller agreed. “It is important to keep our safety forces outfitted properly,” he said. “When we need them, they have to be ready to roll.”