Sterling Heights council buys sixth ambulance as backup

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published November 14, 2018

 Sterling Heights bought new ambulances last year to prepare for the Fire Department’s takeover of advanced life support transport services. The city is buying a sixth ambulance that is set to arrive in 2019.

Sterling Heights bought new ambulances last year to prepare for the Fire Department’s takeover of advanced life support transport services. The city is buying a sixth ambulance that is set to arrive in 2019.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

STERLING HEIGHTS — Sometimes when you have a backup, you still need another backup.

That’s what Sterling Heights City Council members concluded when they unanimously voted at their Nov. 7 meeting to buy a sixth ambulance.

The ambulance, an AEV Type III Traumahawk, is supposed to cost just over $161,700, including accessories. City officials said they are buying the 164-inch ambulance through a Houston-Galveston Area Council cooperative because it’s more efficient and cost-effective that way. The money to pay for this is coming from a budget amendment involving capital project fund reserves.

The item was pulled off the consent agenda for its own separate discussion and vote. Councilman Michael Radtke said he wanted to discuss the item because it’s a large purchase, and he wanted clarification on how it is going to be used.

City Manager Mark Vanderpool said the city so far is breaking even on the financial figures for the Sterling Heights Fire Department’s recent takeover of the advanced life support transport system. The city took on this service from Universal Macomb Ambulance Service in the latter half of last year. Before doing so, it had acquired a federal grant and also invested in five ambulances and 15 new firefighter/paramedics.

Vanderpool said the city currently keeps the fifth ambulance in reserve while four ambulances are put into service on regular runs. He clarified that the sixth ambulance will not be put into regular service but will be held as a reserve to cut down on time when other ambulances are out of service.

“We’re not adding any new personnel to it. We don’t have to buy extra … firefighter gear for it. It’s simply a backup ambulance, if you will,” Vanderpool said.

“I guess I’m just curious about the need for a backup backup ambulance,” Radtke replied.

Fire Chief Chris Martin said the ambulances are still new, and they mostly go to Buff Whelan Chevrolet to get fixed up. He said he’d be more comfortable and prepared with another spare rig.

“This service is busy, a little bit busier than we anticipated,” the chief said.

Councilwoman Deanna Koski said she believes the city does need two backups to properly perform services for the residents. Mayor Michael Taylor called the discussion “productive,” and he praised the program.

“This is a work in progress, and ... we know it’s a model that works, and it’s a model that our residents are benefiting from because they’re getting the top level of service from professional firefighters,” he said.

“So if you’re telling us, chief, that we need another rig in backup, I’ll believe you, and I’m happy to support it.”

City officials expect the new ambulance to arrive by March 2019.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.