An image of the new ambulance service vehicles for Grand County EMS. [Photo courtesy of Grand County EMS]

Two new ambulance vehicles for the Grand County Emergency Medical Services team will give first responders more versatility as they respond to an increasing number of medical emergencies in the area.

Grand County EMS Community Outreach Coordinator McKay Vowles said the two new ambulances are being purchased to replace the two vehicles that “are almost end of life.”

“The best practice is to replace our diesel ambulances when they hit 150,000 miles or 12 years of age. Both of these ambulances surpass those limits,” Vowles said.

The new ambulances are four-wheel drive, which will allow the crews more versatility in unexpected storms or on dirt roads, he said.

“They also have backup cameras and a camera in the patient compartment so the driver can see what is going on in the back,” Vowles said. “The units also come with a liquid spring suspension system that will give a significant better ride for both staff and patients. Better seat belts and improved lighting and storage all make for a safer vehicle.”

Grand County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) reported its busiest month in history in September with 146 emergency runs. Grand County EMS Director Andy Smith said first responders are seeing increases in emergency calls in everything from car accidents to backcountry traumas. September’s 146 emergency runs included 50 medical calls in Moab, 37 backcountry trauma calls, 29 inter-facility transfers, 16 motor vehicle accidents and 14 miscellaneous calls.

GCEMS operates out of one station in Moab with 32 staff members, 12 of which are full time. On average, Vowles said two ambulance crews are on duty to cover multiple calls per day in the county’s 3,694-square-mile area, and the department now staffs a third ambulance crew seasonally.

“We have come a long way in a short period of time; in the last 10 years the calls have doubled,” Vowles said. “Just a few years ago the ambulances were staffed mostly with volunteers, but the increasing call volumes and call length were becoming too much for the relatively small group of volunteers to handle.”

Each ambulance has a price tag of $182,000 and will cost close to $200,000 when fully stocked, he said. The funds to pay for the ambulances are coming from revenue from billing patients for transport to the hospital.

The two aged ambulance vehicles will be auctioned. The new ambulances are expected to be up and running in April, Vowles said.

 “The ambulances are long overdue; with the growth that has been happening in the department we put the purchase on hold for a few years,” Vowles said. “Now with things settling down with the new district board, it is the right time to move forward with the purchase.”

Grand County EMS became a special service district in 2018.

EMS buys new ambulances