BALLINGER – Ballinger Memorial Hospital has recently taken delivery on two new ambulances, which officials say will drastically improve emergency services throughout the county.

BALLINGER – Ballinger Memorial Hospital has recently taken delivery on two new ambulances, which officials say will drastically improve emergency services throughout the county.

The acquisition was made possible thanks to grants from and support from the Ballinger Memorial Hospital District Health Foundation and the San Angelo Area Foundation.

Each of the vehicles are Type 1 Horton ambulances which include a Ford F450 front end and “boxes” which were exclusively designed by the emergency medical department at BMH, overseen by newly retired director Caroline Priddy.

“Because of Caroline’s knowledge in the negotiation process we were able to get everything we hoped and wished for,” said Rhett Fricke, CEO of BMH. “This took preparation by Caroline to make the presentation and she negotiated the best possible product for the best possible price.”

The ambulances include state of the art equipment like stretchers with hydraulic lifts, which provide for better patient transport. In addition, each box is equipped with air bags throughout the space to provide added patient safety.

“The box has the highest safety rating as any rig on the market,” Fricke said.

Fricke said the new ambulances replace one 2009 model and another which was purchased in 2003. The hospital received a trade-in on both of the old ambulances, which left the cost for each ambulance at $200,000.

“This was pitched to the board in November,” Fricke explained. “The fact that they had the confidence to do this and to make an investment while other initiatives were going on is a testament to the board and the confidence we can manage the financial responsibilities.”

Priddy, who officially retired July 1 after 28 years of service as EMS director, thanked everyone involved in making the acquisition possible.

“Without Rhett and without the board, the department heads and the paramedics nothing would be possible,” Priddy said.

Michael Goetz, is the interim EMS director and has one other full time paramedic on staff along with 12 part time paramedics.

“We have personnel from San Angelo and Brownwood who work with us part time,” he explained. Plus, there are paramedics and firefighters in Ballinger and Winters who also work for the department.

Ballinger EMS works with other EMS agencies in North Runnels Hospital in Winters as well as surrounding counties.

“It is imperative all first responders are on the same page,” Goetz said.

The BMH EMS services covers a large swath of Runnels County – from Hatchel to Tom Green County, which includes Miles and to the west to the Coke County line and south to the Concho County line.

“We have a 21st century crew and now we have 21st century technology,” Fricke said.

The new ambulances were placed into service almost immediately.

Each ambulance has already logged more than 1,000 miles on each.

Fricke said the ambulances are used not only in emergency situations, but to transport patients to other facilities.

“This helps provide mush smoother transitioning for patient care, whether it’s to BMH or to another hospital,” Fricke said. “We embrace that as one of our corps services.”