COPPERAS COVE — The Copperas Cove Fire Department is readying new equipment and apparatuses that will save the city money and reduce the risk of employee injuries.
On Thursday, the city drove two like-new fire trucks from Houston back to Cove. The trucks are new vehicles with modified undercarriages that will hold the department’s older ambulance-patient cabins or “boxes.”
“We take such good care of the box that we can just rechassis them,” said Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young.
The department began purchasing the same types of ambulances about 10 years ago, so the old boxes could be lifted off their original undercarriages and replaced with new trucks, Young said.
“A brand new ambulance is anywhere between $120,000 and $130,000,” Young said. “We got these rechassised for about $70,000 (a piece). We see about $50,000 in savings.”
The previous vehicles were a 2003 truck with 126,000 miles and a 2006 with 85,000 miles and engine problems. The oldest of the two boxes was about 10 years old. The new trucks will be placed into service and two of the city’s five ambulances will be moved to reserve status.
Along with rechassising the boxes on the new Dodge Ram 3500s, several parts were refurbished.
Florescent lighting was replaced with LED lighting, which will reduce the cost of replacing bulbs on a regular basis and provide better lighting, Young said. Newer seat belts were installed and workspace corners were safeguarded.
Another new feature is the ability for trucks to “squat,” Young said.
Because the Dodge truck sits higher than the previous model, the back of the vehicle lowers, creating a shorter distance to load patients, Young said.
The department also purchased four patient stretchers with hydraulic lifts.
Before the new stretchers, an emergency medical technician would have to guide the stretcher while another paramedic lifted the patient.
While each stretcher cost about $10,400, Young said they were worth the purchase.
“If we have an employee sustain a back injury, (treating the injury) will cost a lot more,” Young said. “This is a way to keep an employee safe and reduce possible injury to the employee and patient.”
Young said EMS crews deliver about 2,300 people a year to hospitals.