County gets better of ambulance swap

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Jason Nelson, county Emergency Medical Services director, removes decals identifying an ambulance that belonged to Kiowa County, which Allen County got in a swap for a smaller unit.

Tuesday morning commissioners got their first look at what surely is one of the biggest bargains ever for Allen County.
Jason Nelson, Emergency Medical Services director, showed off the county’s newest ambulance, a large upscale unit obtained from Kiowa County in an even-up trade for one of Allen County’s.
The new ambulance is mounted on a 2003 International medium-sized truck frame. The ambulance has 27,000 miles on its engine and has potential to be in service for up to 500,000 miles, Nelson predicted. In exchange, Kiowa got a smaller 2003 Ford with 150,000 miles.
The trade occurred, Nelson said, because the larger ambulance was “just too big and difficult to handle for the all-volunteer force in Kiowa County,” which has a population of 3,600, a quarter of Allen County’s.
“Most of the volunteers in Kiowa County are women and they wanted a smaller ambulance, one that’s easier to drive,” Nelson said.
The deal developed from a conversation Nelson and Chad Pore, Kiowa EMS director, had at a meeting of the Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services.
“A feature we like about the larger ambulance is its air-ride suspension, which will be better for patients and attendants,” Nelson said.
The newest Allen County ambulance should be in service next week and will be stationed in Iola. It will be the first unit out when an emergency arises.
To put the trade in perspective, Nelson noted that a 2010 ambulance commissioners agreed to purchase last week, for delivery in June at the Humboldt station, cost $122,000 and whichever unit traded in or sold to make room would fetch a fraction of that.
“If we were to buy this (the Kiowa) ambulance new, it would cost at least $150,000,” Nelson said.

NELSON SAID through Tuesday afternoon, less than 11 full days into 2010, county ambulances had answered 35 calls.
“We had all four ambulances (two from Iola and one each from Humboldt and Moran) out at one time Friday night,” he said.
Refitting will start soon on a building at 410 N. State St. to house ambulances and crew stationed in Iola.
“We should be in there sometime in June,” Nelson said, which will be welcome relief from austere quarters now occupied in a warehouse at the east edge of town owned by Larry Macha.