SOMERS — It’s here.
After nearly a year of planning and budgeting, the village’s newest emergency vehicle, a state-of-the-art ambulance, made its debut over the weekend.
The 2017 Life-Line 171 ambulance was ordered in the fall and cost the village $205,000. It replaces a 2002 unit that had worn down and was in need of constant repairs, according to Fire Chief Carson Wilkinson.
“We’ve got more room than ever,” he said of staff reaction. “And, they just love it. ”
The new ambulance arrived last month and was also featured at the Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services Association Conference at the Wisconsin Center Jan. 25-28.
Built on a Ford pickup truck chassis rather than the more commonly seen van-type ambulances, Wilkinson said the engine will be easier to access for maintenance and repair. The vehicle also operates on four-wheel drive, and is on a “liquid suspension,” which translates to a smoother ride.
“It rides much more comfortable for the patients, especially,” he said. “To give you an example, a lot of the guys describe it as `riding in a Cadillac’.”
Other features include interior and exterior LED lighting which is brighter and more efficient, aid horns and a dual-tone siren, with high- and low-pitched frequencies when activated.
Wilkinson said the sirens, when activated simultaneously, can be heard by motorists from greater distances on the road.
Inside the ambulance are benches on either side for EMS staff to work on the patient with the gurney in the middle. That’s a departure from the older vehicle. It also has dashboard and rear cameras and an overhead camera inside focused on rescue staff activities.
“You can’t see the patient, but you can see what our people are doing,” he said. “It’s for training purposes, and it’s also for staff protection.”
The operation system runs on touch-screen technology activating everything from emergency lights, to heating and air conditioning to controlling oxygen flow for patients.
The ambulance that it replaces is being donated to the Kenosha-based Scout Leaders Rescue Squad Inc., a non-profit organization of state-certified emergency medical technicians who assist local police and fire departments with everything from active emergencies to sporting events.
The organization will make the necessary repairs on the donated vehicle.
“It’s not our oldest ... but it’s been out of service since Christmas because the engine in it needed work,” Wilkinson said. “And, I didn’t want to spend the budget money to fix the engine with the new rig coming.
“For running every day on 911 calls, it’s worn out. There’s no other way to say it. Being in it for standby service and helping others like with Scout Leaders Rescue Squad, it’ll last them for a lot of years.
Somers Fire Chief Carson Wilkinson offered the following tips for drivers encountering emergency vehicles:
n Pull over to the rightmost lane, turn on hazard lights and stop or slow until the vehicle passes. This is true whether the emergency vehicle is passing either behind or as oncoming traffic.n Look to see whether other emergency vehicles are following and stay stopped until they pass.n Move over to the farthest lane when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road.