Ambulance loss puts county service in crutch (Updated)


The Dubois County Council agreed to appropriate $165,000 from the county’s cumulative capital fund to purchase an ambulance to replace the 2009 ambulance that was totaled. According to Dubois County Ambulance Services Director Susan Henke, insurance is going to pay out $29,000 for the wrecked ambulance. That money will go towards the purchase of the 2015 model described in the story below.

Original story:

Dubois County Commissioners declared an emergency procurement was necessary to replace an ambulance after a crash took one out of service earlier this month.

Dubois County Ambulance Services Director Susan Henke told the commissioners the ambulance needed to be replaced as soon as possible due to the impact on the service. The county usually has seven.

She also reported she had located a 2015 Chevrolet chassis that would match what the county already uses. She added that after the 2016 model year, this chassis would no longer be available.

Henke said the 2015 chassis would cost between $160,000 to $165,000, a savings of about $10,000 over what the service recently paid for a new ambulance. Although less expensive, the chassis would still be sold as new and be under warranty from the moment of purchase.

Henke had expected to be able to tell commissioners how much insurance would pay for the totaled ambulance but that information was not available yet. The county will need to subsidize that amount to cover the cost of the new ambulance. Henke will be asking the county council for approval of those funds later this month.

The commissioners approved advertising for the no-bid purchase due to the necessity of the new ambulance as well as the lack of a similar model.

The 2009 ambulance was totaled in a crash at Bretzville Junction on October 19. According to police reports, Austin Hagan was driving the ambulance northbound on State Road 162 when he ran through the stoplight and hit an SUV that was westbound on State Road 64.

In addition to destroying the ambulance, about $4,500 in equipment was damaged. The collision also requires the service to have the equipment onboard to be tested and recertified.

Henke told the commissioners there has not been an accident like this in years.

Henke clarified some questions residents had about a 20-year-old driving an ambulance. She explained that a driver can be as young as 18 if they have a clear driving record and have gone through the required training. They are also paired with a field training officer their first 60 days on the job to ensure they know proper procedures for driving.

“The majority of our new hires (for paramedic or EMT) are young people,” she said. “We’ve done all we need to do to ensure he (Hagan) was qualified to drive an ambulance.”

She also pointed out that the ambulances have recording systems that report hard braking, excessive speed or acceleration and hard turns.

“It also teaches them to drive safely,” Henke said.

When Commissioner Chad Blessinger asked if the driver is getting more training or driving again but Henke said she was unable to comment on that publicly since it is a personnel issue. She did say he was still employed by the service.

One Response to Ambulance loss puts county service in crutch (Updated)

  1. Mrs. Ima Ruth Green November 22, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    Doesn’t seem like much compared to the current price for a new ambulance, but I guess $29,000 isn’t bad for an 8-year-old model given the new cost back then. The county might actually be better off all the way around to trade these in more often – every two or three years – rather than keeping them so long into depreciation – plus have the added safety, security and technology of a more current fleet. On a related subject, I still believe the public has a right to know what the cause of this crash (beyond simply running a red light, but the cause, why, etc) was determined to be, as a county-run and/or funded entity, employee, etc. The personnel-privacy laws govern disciplinary, termination and related personnel actions – not the results of an accident investigation.