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Colfax buys demo ambulance for $182,000

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  The Colfax Rescue Squad will soon have a new ambulance.

Well, not completely new.

By the time the rescue squad takes delivery on the 2014 Osage ambulance with a Dodge engine, the vehicle will be a little over a month old and will have about 5,000 miles on it.

On the recommendation of the public safety committee, the Colfax Village Board approved buying the 2014 Osage ambulance at the June 23 meeting.

The public safety committee met prior to the village board meeting to discuss the nine demonstration ambulances that Don Knutson, Colfax Rescue Squad director, had found during his research.

Knutson met with the public safety committee June 16 to say that the rescue squad’s second existing ambulance, a 2005 Econoline, was leaking various fluids and would cost about $5,000 to fix.

The 2005 Econoline was scheduled to be replaced in January of 2015.

The Econoline ambulances have a history of developing engine problems, Knutson said, noting that even if $5,000 were spent to fix the ambulance, there is no guarantee that something else would not go wrong with it before it was scheduled to be replaced.

The public safety committee instructed Knutson to find out information about demonstration models that were available.

From the time specifications are written until a new ambulance built specifically for Colfax is delivered would be between six and nine months.

A demo model ambulance can often be delivered within a month or two, although it has the disadvantage of not being built specifically for Colfax.

Over the last five years, the rescue squad has spent about $14,000 on repairs for the 2005 Econoline, Knutson said.


Prices on the nine demonstration models that Knutson found range from $148,000 to $199,000 with trade in.

Two Braun ambulances were priced at $148,000 and $199,560.

Braun is considered top-of-line and the Cadillac of ambulances.

The $148,000 Braun ambulance was too small to hold the equipment that the Colfax Rescue Squad uses.

The $199,560 Braun was the most expensive and would not be delivered for three months.

Colfax’s newest existing ambulance is a Lifeline, and the demo model Lifeline that Knutson found was a little over $185,000, would have about 10,000 miles on it and would not be delivered for four or five months.

The other ambulances were various models but all came with Ford engines and ranged in price from $159,000 to $199,044.

None of the Ford engine ambulances were comparable to the Braun, Osage or Lifeline.


Colfax has never owned an Osage ambulance.

Mark Halpin, village trustee and a member of the public safety committee, wondered if any other municipality close by has had an Osage.

“Shawano has had one for 20 years, and they swear by it,” Knutson said, noting that Osage and Lifeline are similar types of companies.

The Osage ambulance is in the last stages of being built and will be delivered to the distributor next week, he said.

The distributor is only asking to be able to use it as a demonstration model for 30 to 40 days before delivering it to Colfax and estimates that it will have 5,000 miles on it, Knutson said.

Knutson recommended that a deer guard be added to the ambulance at a cost of $4,500.

Colfax ambulances seem to hit a deer about every year, causing about $4,500 in damage to the vehicle, he said.

When it eventually comes time to replace the Osage ambulance, the box can be taken off and transferred to another chassis. Reusing the box saves quite a lot of money on the cost of a new ambulance, Knutson said.

Unfortunately, the Econoline box cannot be transferred to another vehicle because the Econoline is a van chassis, and pickup truck chassis are now more commonly used for ambulances.

Lifeline would give a $5,000 trade-in on the 2005 Econoline, while Osage is offering a $7,500 trade-in, Knutson said.

The Osage also will come with several “bells and whistles,” such as an IV heater and a back-up camera, he said.

The IV heater can be especially helpful in the winter, Knutson said, pointing out that people can actually end up with hypothermia from cold intravenous fluids.


The Colfax Rescue Squad currently has $105,000 in designated funds for a new ambulance, along with $64,000 in funds remaining from last year’s budget.

The difference between the funds available and the cost of the Osage ambulance is a little over $13,000.

Every year, the Colfax Rescue Squad sets aside $20,000 to put toward a new ambulance.

The rescue squad may have to borrow the $13,000 from the village until the additional $20,000 is available in January of 2015.

The public safety committee unanimously approved a motion at the June 23 meeting to recommend that the village board approve buying the 2014 Osage ambulance at a cost of $182,425.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion at the June 23 village board meeting to purchase the ambulance.