MEEKER | The Rio Blanco Fire Protection District has a new ambulance. The state-of-the-art 2017 vehicle includes a powered stretcher that can be loaded and unloaded at the push of a button, improving patient comfort and safety while protecting the well-being of first responders. The vehicle has four-point safety harnesses for first responders, enabling them to be securely restrained while treating patients, an infrared camera system that alerts drivers to animals or people in the roadway and a specialized suspension that smooths the ride for patients. The overall cost of the new ambulance is just under $260,000. With three ambulances in rotation, Fire Chief Terry Skidmore said he estimates they average 20,000 miles a year. The new ambulance could last up to 20 years.
“It’s well worth the cost if we can get people where they need to be safely,” Skidmore said.
The 2017 vehicle replaces a 2006 model that was donated to the Maybell Ambulance service. During a training exercise in Meeker, to which Maybell first responders were invited, Meeker officials learned that Maybell did not have a four-wheel drive ambulance.
“It was a blessing they decided to do this,” said Maybell Ambulance director Sherry Johnson. “We’re so grateful.”
The Maybell Ambulance service covers a remote 2,700 square mile area in northwest Colorado. They have two ambulances in service, the newest of which, before this donation, was a 1995 model.
“In 41 years, we never had the means to have a four-wheel drive vehicle,” Johnson said. They’ve chained up, used personal vehicles, and otherwise done whatever was necessary to respond to calls in their area. Johnson expressed her gratitude for the collaboration with the RBFPD. “Ever since Kris Borchard invited us, we’ve been working together. We certainly appreciate everything they have done for us.”
The Meeker district has three vehicles in operation: a 2001, a 2011 and the new vehicle.