The Red Lodge - Roberts Ambulance District recently added a new two-wheel drive, fuel-efficient ambulance to its fleet. The unit replaces a 1991 ambulance with more than 188,000 miles on it. The new ambulance is built on a Mercedes Sprinter 2500 chassis. It cost about $50,000 less than a traditional 4x4 truck type ambulance, and will get about three times the fuel economy of the unit it replaces.
The ambulance, to be known as A75, will primarily be used for transferring the more seriously sick and injured patients between Red Lodge and Billings, and on runs where a more expensive four-wheel drive unit isn't necessary. "Most of the miles and wear and tear we put on our ambulances is driving between Red Lodge and Billings," said Red Lodge Fire Rescue's Assistant Chief Kyle Starr. "By having a smaller, dedicated two-wheel drive van type transfer ambulance, our bigger 4WD ambulances will have longer service life and decreased miles."
When not performing transfers, A75 will be utilized as a backup ambulance for 911 calls in areas where 4wd is not needed. "This ambulance is going to be great for transfers and for calls on roadways like the Beartooth Pass," said Red Lodge Fire Rescue's Deputy Chief Aaron McDowell. "However, because of the rough roads in our area and the amount of snow we get in the winter, it will not be used as a primary ambulance for 911 calls"
The ambulance is not only smaller and more fuel efficient, it has modern safety features and a significantly improved ride quality. "All our EMS Volunteers welcomed the much needed update, both in terms of safety and efficiency, with this new ambulance," said Ambulance Volunteer Association president George Clow, "and everyone is sure the patents will like the quieter and more comfortable ride." “We are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers,” said Chief Tom Kuntz, “and making sure that our responders have efficient and effective tools to serve the community is really important.”
The Red Lodge – Roberts Ambulance District was formed in 2010 to provide both emergency and nonemergency ambulance response, emergency medical services, and other emergency services to an area that includes, Luther, Red Lodge, Roberts and Bearcreek. Red Lodge Fire Rescue provides ambulance service for the district and responds to more than 500 requests for service each year.