New ambulance arrives for East Liverpool Fire Department

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EAST LIVERPOOL – After a nearly two-and-a-half-year wait, the newest addition to the East Liverpool Fire Department’s line up of public safety vehicles has arrived.

East Liverpool firefighters and several members of the city council excitedly gathered around the department’s new ambulance when it arrived at the station Tuesday afternoon.

The project to purchase the ambulance started in 2020. In September of 2021, East Liverpool Fire Chief Bill Jones learned the department had been approved for a grant from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in the amount of $188,571.43 toward the purchase. With the council’s approval the ambulance was ordered in December of 2021.

The FEMA grant required some matching funds, so in addition to the grant, the city paid $30,151.57 from the Capital Improvement Fund toward the purchase.

“This would not have been possible without the grant. With just starting EMS on our own we haven’t generated enough income to purchase this on our own,” Jones said.

After nearly two and a half years of waiting, East Liverpool Fire Department’s new custom-built ambulance arrived. (Photo by Kristi R. Garabrandt)

The new ambulance, which cost $218,723, is a 2022 Osage Ford F550 Super Duty ambulance that was purchased from Myers Equipment Corporation.

The custom built ambulance was designed by an ambulance build committee consisting of the fire chief, Assistant Chief Jason Glista, Lt. Aaron Jones and fire fighters Kevin Cibula, Shawn Fiffick and Derek Sullivan.

The ambulance was designed by the firefighters to their needs and how they operate to allow the firefighters to work more effectively.

“It will be easier for them for patient care because where they choose how to have our equipment placed. The cabinets and everything, they designed all of those, and there is a custom design for our pharmacological box,” Jones said. “Everything is designed by these guys, and they designed it for their best workflow.”

Jones also noted that he stepped back on the design process to give the firefighters experience for when he is gone. The firefighters are the ones who designed the ambulance and dealt with the reps and handled any problems.

“They did a good job.” Jones said. “They knew they had a budget and that’s what they had to stick to and they did.”

The new ambulance, which is expected to be put into service around the beginning of August after license plates are purchased for it and it has been registered through MediCare for billing purpose, has the same look of black on red with gold trim as the department’s other vehicles.

The ambulance has multiple features to ensure the safety of firefighters and patients including lights all around the top of the unit which switch from flashing lights when the vehicle is traveling to scene lights when the vehicle is stationary at a scene, a backup camera and a liquid suspension which allows the truck to be raised in the front so it doesn’t drag going up hills or lowered in the back to avoid back injury when loading or unloading patients, and has four wheel drive to help during the winters.

“I think we are building a pretty good system to keep our residents safe,” Jones said. “This is built pretty well, and it will last a lifetime. Once we get the other one remounted, they won’t have to worry about another ambulance for years.”

The department currently has two older ambulances, but the terms of the grant from FEMA require its 22-year-old ambulance to be put out of service. The ambulance will need to be retired and will not be allowed to be used for an emergency service. Jones isn’t sure what they are going to do with it yet but believes it will be auctioned off.

“Now that we run ambulance ourselves and are the only ambulance//EMS service in the city limits it’s very important for us to have a reliable ambulance to get around with,” Jones said.

With the new ambulance, medical care is available for any resident in need. If the ambulance is in use, as long as a call is made to 911, the fire truck will be sent out until the ambulance frees up. There is medical equipment on the fire truck to take care of people and the backup (secondary squad) is stocked, the chief said.

The secondary ambulance will be remounted to be identical to the inside of the new ambulance so both units have equipment located in the spot.

“Our goal is to keep our residents safe. We will help outside the city. We work with NorthStar very closely. If they need help, we will back them up. If we need help, they will back us up,” Jones said. “You shouldn’t have to wait inside the city limits for help to arrive. All the guys, including myself, are trained as EMTS or paramedics and firefighters. Anything we do, we try to do it for the betterment of the city and the residents and, of course, my guys, I want them safe, and this will keep them safe and the patients safe.”


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