University Hospital shows off its new four-wheel drive ambulance

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COLUMBIA – Boone County has its first and only four-wheel drive ambulance, and officials said people in need of emergency medical assistance will be safer with this vehicle.

Daryn Stark, ambulance supervisor at University Hospital, said MU Health Care bought the ambulance in November 2015. Stark said the hospital purchased it so EMS can respond to calls in a more timely and effective manner in any road conditions. 

“It was a need that we had over the past few winters,” Stark said. “Street crews do a wonderful job, but sometimes we just need further abilities to get through the snow or mud, and this will help us meet our mission.”

Stark said there are also safety features added to the truck to enhance safety for crews and patients both.

There is a pulley ramp system and a liquid spring suspension system. Stark said the ramp lifts bariatric patients into the ambulance, and the liquid spring suspension system gives the crew and patients a “smoother” ride. 

Gale Bomenkamp, assistant chief of the Boone County Fire Protection District, said in the past, emergency responders sometimes had to use volunteers with four-wheel drive vehicles instead of ambulances to get to patients’ residences.

“A lot of times we would struggle with getting that patient and the crew and everything else back into that four-wheel drive vehicle and back out to the ambulance before they could get treated and be transported to the hospital,” Blomenkamp said.

As a result, Blomenkamp said, there was a delay in care and transport. He said the new ambulance will benefit the community and the patient.

Stark said the hospital is getting a second four-wheel drive ambulance in March.