Big Sandy's New Ambulance Now in Service

The Big Sandy Volunteer EMTs are riding in style nowadays. After months of delays, the new ambulance is finally in use. The fire department originally submitted a grant application in June of 2020 to the Montana Department of Transportation, which operates a grant program that pays for up to 90% of the cost of a new ambulance. The price of a new ambulance at the time was $220,000. The grant was awarded later that fall, but delays due to supply chain issues pushed back manufacturing and kept the department from receiving the new rig for several months past the anticipated date. The new ambulance became operational just in time, as the newer of the two old ambulance experienced engine issues on a recent trip to Great Falls.

The new ambulance has advanced safety features for both the patient and the EMTs. It came equipped with a lift system which eliminates the need for EMTs to lift the stretcher and patient into the ambulance. It also features a new "Lifepack", which monitors patient vital signs, performs and transmits EKGs to area hospitals and can provide defibrillation if necessary. Five-point harnesses in the back of the rig allow EMT's to care for patients while remaining securely seat-belted. It also features push-button snow chains, heated shelving and easier to clean flooring.

The MDT grant requirements stipulate that patients be billed at the minimum Medicare rate. This means that ambulance rides will no longer be free of charge, but the department is committed to ensuring that anyone who needs the ambulance can call without the fear of the inability to pay. The fire and ambulance crews are incredibly grateful for the community support that made paying for the remaining 10% of the ambulance cost possible. Be on the lookout for the new ambulance to be featured on the Montana PBS show "Backroads of Montana" later this fall.

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