By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Has the Colfax Rescue Squad’s second ambulance reached the end of its useful life?
The 2005 Ford Econoline V8 is leaking oil and antifreeze, and the estimate to fix it is nearly $5,000, said Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, at a meeting of the Colfax Village Board’s Public Safety committee on June 16.
The ambulance “is leaking now, but it’s not gushing yet,” Knutson said.
All of the Colfax EMTs know that the 2005 ambulance is supposed to be used as “second out,” that they need to check fluid levels and that they should be careful with it, he said.
Since the ambulance is in need of major repair, the question is — should it be replaced now or wait until January of 2015 when it is scheduled to be replaced? Knutson asked.
Since the ambulance is so close to its scheduled replacement time, Knutson is of the opinion that it is probably not worth fixing.
Another concern is that if $5,000 is spent to fix what is wrong with it now, what else will need fixing in the near future? he wondered.
The 2005 ambulance “went from no puddles (on the floor at the rescue squad) to multiple puddles,” Knutson said.
The ambulance has 88,000 miles on it, which would not seem like much for a passenger car, but is actually quite a few miles for an ambulance because a certain amount of time is spent idling and then being pushed hard, he said.
Knutson identified three options for the Colfax Village Board: repair the ambulance; find a manufacturer’s demonstration model to buy now to replace it; write up specifications and order a new ambulance.
Buying a manufacturer’s demo model would be the fastest way to replace the ambulance, Knutson said.
Writing specs and ordering a new ambulance would be about a ten-month process, with two months to write the specs, one month of advertising for bids, and six months for the manufacturer to build the ambulance, he explained.
If Colfax ordered a brand new ambulance, however, the manufacturer would give the rescue squad an ambulance to use during the building process, Knutson noted.
A brand new ambulance will cost between $150,000 and $200,000.
The rescue squad currently has $105,000 in a designated fund for a new ambulance and $64,108 left over from last year’s budget.
Buying a demo model ambulance might save between $5,000 and $10,000, Knutson said.
The specifications on a demonstration model will be different than what Colfax would order, such as size differences for cabinets in the back, he noted.
Knutson said that he had hoped the 2005 ambulance would be in good enough shape to use as a spare.
A third ambulance would be handy to have when the rescue squad is sitting at a football game, and the second ambulance is dispatched on a 911 call. Colfax also is called out to be on standby in Wheeler from time to time for Boyceville, and if the remaining Colfax ambulance is called out, there is no extra ambulance for Colfax. In that case, an ambulance from Menomonie must be called for standby — assuming there is one available in Menomonie.
Dunn County only has seven ambulances — two in Colfax, two in Boyceville and three in Menomonie, Knutson said.
By contrast, Chippewa County has more than a dozen ambulances, he said.
Members of the public safety committee asked Knutson to find out information about demonstration models that are available as well as information about new ambulances.
The Colfax Village Board would have to approve an ambulance purchase or repair.
The village board’s next regular meeting was June 23.
The public safety committee is planning to meet prior to the next village board meeting to review information that Knutson has been able to gather.