Purchasing an ambulance is a major investment that can be a stressful process involving many questions. While some organizations buy a new emergency vehicle every year or two, others can go a decade or more before replacing or refurbishing an emergency vehicle, and a lot can change during that span.
You might have concerns about price or how long a new ambulance will last. Or, you might be unsure about what type of ambulance is right for your organization’s needs, or how long it will take before a custom-built ambulance can be delivered. You might also have very practical questions such as how long an ambulance should last or if there are centrally located service centers to help with maintenance and to protect the life of the vehicle.
Breaking down the key aspects of this decision into more manageable criteria will ultimately help you make a more informed purchase decision. Here are some of the important considerations to consider to be more confident you’re getting the right vehicle and making the best use of your resources:
1. The Size and Type of Ambulance
Ambulances are typically available as Type 1, 2 or 3 models. Type 1s are based upon a heavy truck chassis with a custom module and are primarily used for Advanced Life Support and rescue work. They also typically only have a small opening connecting the cab of the vehicle with the patients and personnel in the back. Type 2s are typically van-style vehicles and are primarily used for hospital-to-hospital transport, but they can be used in rescue work as well. Type 3s are similar to Type 1 but use a van chassis and have a larger opening between the cab and back of the vehicle, allowing a person to move between the front and back of the vehicle.
2. The Types of Calls Your Department Responds To
Are you in a high-density metropolitan area where the vehicle will be responding to numerous emergencies? Are you in a more rural setting where emergencies aren’t as frequent? Are you regularly asked to transport stable patients to another hospital? There are ambulances for every type of scenario, and your dealer should be able to help you determine what type of ambulance is right for your situation.
3. The Frequency of Calls
We have customers that respond to 85,000 -140,000 calls per year. Their ambulances are well used and don’t sit around much. We also have customers that respond to 50 calls per year. How much use your vehicle receives is one of the most important factors in the lifetime cost of that vehicle.
4. Geography and Terrain
If you’re located in a mountainous region with dramatic altitude changes, a diesel engine will likely provide a better return on your investment than a gasoline engine, even though the upfront cost will be higher. On the other hand, in most metropolitan settings a gasoline powered engine may be the better choice. Be sure to discuss your specific conditions, idle times and fleet requirements with your dealer when buying an ambulance.
5. Maintenance Costs
Make no mistake, ambulances work hard. They are driven at high speeds over all types of terrain, putting a lot of stress on the vehicle and components. Proper maintenance is required for your investment to last and remain under warranty. You’ll want to make sure you have an authorized service center near you to help with routine and emergency maintenance.
6. How Often the Vehicle Will Be Replaced
While most organizations and municipalities replace their vehicles at regular intervals, buying new isn’t always the only, or best, option. We often encourage customers to consider remounting their current module to a new chassis. Our modules come with a lifetime warranty – so mounting your existing module to a new chassis will often give you significant savings.
How Life Line Provides a Better Cost of Ownership
When making such a large and important purchase, it pays to do your homework. Make sure to ask about the warranty and if references are available. Life Line is proud to offer a lifetime warranty on all of our modules. We are also extremely willing to connect a prospective buyer with EMS personnel in a similar setting who can discuss their experience with a Life Line vehicle and give honest feedback about their experience.
We like to joke that the first Life Line ambulance is the hardest to sell, but the second one is the easiest. With approximately 80% of our customers being repeat purchases, we know we’re doing something right. If you have any questions about the right type of ambulance for your situation, please reach out to us at 563-578-3317.