By Alan M. Petrillo
Sedgwick County (KS) Emergency Medical Services has taken delivery this year of seven American Emergency Vehicles (AEV) Type 1 ambulances to add to its fleet of front-line advanced life support (ALS) rigs that run during peak hours.
Kevin Lanterman, the county’s EMS chief, says the agency covers 1,009 square miles with a population of 528,000. The department ran 67,670 calls in 2022, running 19 Type 1 ambulances during peak hours. Staffing includes 159 paramedics, advanced emergency medical technicians (AEMT), and EMts.
Mark Hopwood, executive assistant at American Response Vehicles, who sold the rigs to Sedgwick County EMS, says that the agency had been purchasing Ford E-450 Type 3 ambulances before switching over to a Type 1 chassis when Ford indicated it was going to discontinue the Type 3 Econoline chassis in the near future. “The department was buying Ford E-450 Type 3 units with Liquid Spring rear axles, and after about four years would remount the patient box on a new chassis,” Hopwood notes. “But with the switch at Ford, the department chose to go with a Type 1 chassis and box around 2018.”
Paul Gibson, division officer for Sedgwick County EMS, says at that time the agency wanted to redesign the patient box to make it safer for both medics and patients. “We had been a longtime user of the curb side squad bench,” he observes, “but changed to an attendant seat where the medic can attend to a patient while seated and belted. We checked out rigs in Kansas City, Kansas, and in Douglas County to inspect their AEV Type 1 ambulances, and our task force ultimately came up with an interior design for what we wanted in our rig.”
Lanterman says that in 2018 the task force revamped the airway cabinet, redesigned the forward and rear-facing cabinets, added a telemetry area, put in the curbside attendant seat in place of the squad bench, and added a rear Liquid Spring suspension. But for the new Ford F-550 Type 1 units, the task force added a Liquid Spring suspension on the front of the rigs, put in a crawl-through opening between the cab and patient module, and installed a rear view camera system on all exterior sides of the vehicle and inside the patient compartment.
Hopwood points out that Sedgwick County’s new Type 1 ambulances have a Zico oxygen bottle lift, a Striker Power LOAD and PowerPRO cot, an Arctic Wedge condenser at the front of the patient box, an ActivTec decontamination system in the patient box that sanitizes the air by ultraviolet light of the incoming air current, Per4Max seat belt harnesses at all seating locations, auto shade privacy windows, Day Bright LED interior center lighting, tow eyes in the front and rear of the rig, and a e-lock system for the refrigerated medicine cabinet.
Gibson points out that Sedgwick County expects to get five more AEV Type 1 ambulances delivered this year, and plans on continuing the order cycle in future years.
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Ariz.-based journalist, the author of three novels and five non-fiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including the position of chief.