For the first time in nearly a decade, Cole County will not be getting ambulances from Osage Ambulance Company.
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At Tuesday's Cole County Commission meeting, commissioners approved the purchase of ambulances from Demers Ambulances, which is based in Canada; the company has distributors in the United States.
Ambulance Chief Matt Lindewirth said two ambulances would be purchased, giving them a fleet of 14. Two of the current frontline ambulances would go into reserve status and be used as needed.
The chassis of the current ambulances are having maintenance issues, so two more ambulances are needed, Lindewirth said.
Lindewirth said they looked at several companies, but it came down to Osage and Demers as the top two providers.
Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher and Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle voted in favor of the purchase, while Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman abstained.
For the two Demers ambulances, Lindewirth said, the total cost was $381,300. For the two Osage ambulances, the cost was $415,000.
Among the items each ambulance has to have are heating and cooling for proper storage of medication, child restraints, 360-degree cameras to help drivers avoid accidents and carbon monoxide monitors.
In other action Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved a $62,000 contract with Sierra Wireless for radio equipment for 14 ambulances and four command staff vehicles, which are also dispatched to emergency calls. Sierra Wireless is a Canadian company with distributors within the United States.
Lindewirth said the new equipment will allow dispatchers to be able to better track ambulances so the closest ambulance to an emergency can be dispatched, reducing response times. It will also allow for better communications between ambulances and hospitals as they send in patient reports while they are heading into a hospital.