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New Ambulances at CoxHealth Have Increased Fuel Efficiency and Safety


That’s the sound of the engine in one of two new ambulances recently purchased by CoxHealth.  According to the health system, the Mercedes Mirage EX Sprinters bring to 27 the number of vehicles in the Cox EMS fleet.

You may have seen that type of vehicle around Springfield being used as delivery vans by businesses such as FedEx and UPS.  But, CoxHealth EMS Operations Manager Mike Dawson, says in the U.S. it’s still uncommon to see them being used as ambulances.

According to Dawson, the vehicles get better fuel economy than traditional ambulances so the carbon footprint is reduced.

But, perhaps most importantly, the ambulances are safer for both EMS workers and patients since workers sit forward facing in seats outfitted with four point harness restraint systems…

"What this allows is ready access, forward facing so if there is a crash the medic is sitting forward now just like you would in a regular car.  They're secured with seat belts.  They still have the accessibility.  They can actually turn to start IVs on their patients, to be able to  touch the patient from the top of their  head to the bottom of their feet.  Their cardiac monitor is right here at fingertip length.  The access panels to turn on the lights, everything is in a new spot where in the past you actually  literally had to get up and  to the head of the patient to be able to access those lights."

Dawson says for years EMS workers have sat sideways on benches with only a lap belt when they didn’t have to be up taking care of patients.  The new ambulances change that…

"I've been in EMS for 32 years. I've been riding in the back of ambulances for a long time, and we have always had this kind of cavalier approach  to, 'I'm here to take care of my patient,' which is true, but I can take care of my patient and still be safe.  You know, we've always kind of looked at is as well, it's worth the sacrifice, my patient's worth the sacrifice.  I'll put myself in harm's way for them, which is not a bad philosophy, but, why do that if you don't have to?"


The backs of the new ambulances are smaller with room to restrain two EMS workers and a patient cot.  But one seat can be lowered and a long spine board carrying a patient can be secured on top of necessary.  Dawson says the smaller size allows for increased safety…

"The size limits the person taking care of the patient, but that's what helps protect them, too.  So, if I'm sitting in this vehicle, and I--see I can lock this seat in here--I can take care of my patient. I can easily reach what I need."

Each ambulance costs $91,999, which Dawson says is around $60,000 cheaper than the ambulances Cox used to purchase.  The health system plans to replace the entire fleet as existing ambulances reach the end of their life expectancy.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.