Cole County commissioners told the county's EMS chief to continue putting together a request for proposal for new ambulances.
Chief Eric Hoy is requesting funding for three ambulances. Two will be a carry-over from the non-purchase of ambulances last year ($390,000 was budgeted for that in 2021). One ambulance would be purchased with money budgeted for this year.
During the regular commission meeting Tuesday morning, Hoy said they would need to have $250,000-$300,000 each for the ambulances.
The current ambulances have a wheelbase of 158 inches and a module length of 170 inches. The module is where patients and EMS crew ride and where medical equipment is stored. The total length of the ambulance is 277 inches.
The proposed new ambulances would have a wheelbase of 193 inches and a module length of 172 inches. The total length of the ambulance would be 310 inches. The module would be mounted on a Ford 4X4 engine chassis.
"Switching from a van chassis to the truck chassis will provide us with 12-14 inches in additional length in the patient compartment," Hoy said. "That additional length, along with a more efficiently designed interior, will provide a large increase in usable space for ambulances crews providing patient care."
Hoy added EMS staff has concluded they should continue to move forward with gas engines instead of diesel engines.
"Hospitals have also told us in the last month that there may be situations, due to changes in their scope of practice, where we're taking hospital equipment with hospital staff due to the illness level of some patients," Hoy said.
Currently, the county uses van-style ambulances, which Hoy said cost $200,000-$250,000 each.
"Even for a cardiac-arrest call in town, you need a minimum of three people in the back of the ambulance providing care until we get to the hospital," Hoy said. "A larger ambulance gives us more room to comfortably work on the patient."
Hoy said actual costs for the ambulances won't be known until they get the RFP finalized and they receive bids. The next step for Hoy and his staff is to come up with the interior design for the vehicles.
"I think some of the places you have to go to get patients you need to have the four-wheel drive," Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said.
The commission and EMS began researching the ambulance purchase in October. They visited with three ambulance vendors -- American Response Vehicle of Columbia, Osage Ambulances in Linn and Pinnacle Emergency Vehicles out of Arkansas. Pinnacle represents Demers, the Canadian company with distributors in the United States; the county last purchased ambulances from Demers.
Hoy and EMS staff are not making any recommendations yet as to which vendor they believe would be best for the county.
Officials from the companies said it could take as long as a year before a new ambulance would be able to be delivered because of backlogs due to parts shortages.
In other business Tuesday, the commission approved an agreement for design of a stormwater project at Northport and Westport drives.
"We are planning to do some major pavement repairs and overlays in the Westport subdivision off of South Country Club," Public Works Director Eric Landwehr said. "There is an existing pipe and set of inlets that needs to be replaced due to the poor condition of the pipe."
Landwehr said this specific location experienced some flooding issues in June and this agreement for engineering services will address that with a redesign of the system to minimize the flood risk.
"The contract amount is $14,110 and is with Central Missouri Professional Services, who designed a subdivision directly upstream from this location and already have design calculations for that stormwater system," Landwehr said. "This will help save time and design costs."