(Correction: This story has been updated to reflect some clarifications about the equipment in the new ambulance.)
Mitchell County Regional Health Center recently added a new ambulance to its fleet, and it has made Kevin Crowe and hospital officials happy for the community.
As EMS director, Crowe has seen more than his share of tragedy and joy. He has saved lives. Therefore, it says something when Crowe is this excited, that he welcomes so warmly a 2021 ambulance to Osage.
He states flatly that it is not his, nor the hospital’s – it belongs to the people.
With the new addition, the county now has a fleet of three ambulances serving the region with an EMS team on call 24/7.
The 2021 version will be the hospital’s first-line truck, while the diesel purchased last year, with a world-class suspension system, will be used for transfers.
“It still doesn’t ride as nice as your car, but it’s the best you can do with an ambulance,” Crowe said of the diesel.
Crowe added that receiving the 2021 model is far better than purchasing a brand new car. It has 600 miles on it, and it is still waiting for its first patient.
It is the details that matter to Crowe. There are features no other ambulance in Osage has. In the new vehicle, EMS workers no longer can walk from front to back, but speak through a window. The ceiling is higher.
The new ambulance also uses a Power-LOAD to lower and raise the stretcher out of the back of the ambulance and can accommodate 870 pounds.
In the rear is a HEPA air filter, which cleans the air as it cycles through. The air filter is located in the patient-care area of the ambulance.
“The filter removes 99.7 percent of particulates in the air,” Crowe said.
“One of the reasons the air filter becomes more important is because of COVID-19,” said Elaine Barreca, senior director of public relations. “We could be transporting a COVID-19 patient."
The coronavirus is actually one of the reasons the hospital was able to purchase a new ambulance this year.
The hospital used CARES Act funding to purchase the ambulance, which is the first of its kind in Mitchell County. The CARES Act provides federal funding for people, businesses and industry affected by COVID-19.
The ambulance comes from a Missouri company with a familiar name: Osage Ambulances. The exterior lettering was put on in Missouri as well.
Crowe began his career in 1998. That equals countless hours on the road, and so many emergencies it would be difficult to remember each one.
He said 99 percent of 911 calls come to MCRHC. However, some of those cases will leave by Life Flight.
“If it’s anything extremely serious – which is a broad term – they’ll get transferred out to Mayo or Mercy in Mason City," he said. "A couple times a year we’ll go to Iowa City.
“We are fortunate to have an ER here with staffed physicians who are with Mercy. I don’t want to say it’s like going to the same place, but you’re getting the same people.”
The hospital serves the entire county, and a new ambulance does not hurt this coverage.
“Like I said, it’s not our vehicle, it’s the community’s vehicle,” Crowe added.
Jason W. Selby is the community editor for the Mitchell Country Press News. He can be reached at 515-971-6217, or by email at email@example.com.