Each year the American College of Emergency Physicians and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians celebrate National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week. This year it is May 21-27 and the theme is EMS Strong: “Always in Service.” Most people assume they can pick up the phone, dial “911” and an ambulance will show up. Unfortunately, unlike our sister services of Law Enforcement and Fire, EMS is not considered an “essential service,” resulting in few tax dollars dedicated to EMS services. Most services hope that by charging insurance companies they can cover the minimum of their operational costs. To purchase new equipment they seek grants, community donations, or try to identify corporate funding. The board and administration of Orange City Area Health System has made a solid commitment to ensure the ambulance team is “Always in Service,” and a year ago approved the purchase of a new ambulance. A committee spent months designing a new ambulance and this past October it was put into service. What does a new ambulance mean? It means a significantly better ride for our patients through a new suspension system. Improved climate control with multiple vents allow the attendant to regulate air flow around the patient. Interior LED lights can make it feel like an operating room. Inset cabinet lights make it easier to see into cabinets and allow the interior to be dimmed for patient comfort. Improved safety for both the patient and attendants was considered when designing seating and equipment location. Attendants can now access most equipment without having to stand up and move around. The exterior has a new design and is enhanced with reflective materials. The back has a chevron design as it has been proven in multiple studies that people see this image both day and night. The bright exterior LED lights are visible both night and day. Remember “bright light, move to the right!” If you don’t, you will be the recipient of a loud noise and feel the ground vibrate from a device called the Howler that blasts wave forms into the ground. Fuel consumption was evaluated, leading to us placing a header over the front to increase efficiency. Idling technology allows the unit to automatically shut off and then start back up depending on the set temperature. Finally, security was upgraded, including a dash camera and a rear compartment camera, as well as new technology that allows the unit to remain running even if the keys have been removed and doors locked. All of this new technology will not just sit around. You can expect to see your Orange City Area Health System Ambulance Team to be on the move. Last year we ran 689 calls – which averages 1.9 per day. 2017 has already been filled with the lights and sirens of the OCAHS Ambulance. Remember, if you need us, Orange City Area Health System EMS is committed to being “Always In Service.” P.S. If we aren’t busy; stop in! We would love to show you around.