Supply chain issues cause long delays for new ambulances, parts in Marion County

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT
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HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) - When responding to an emergency, paramedics drive ambulances quickly to ensure they can help the person in need.

However, the normal wear and tear from the job means ambulances have to be replaced every five to seven years.

“Our ambulances undergo a lot of extreme wear and tear due to responding rapidly and the fast ‘to’ calls and then the slow ‘from’ calls. That puts a lot of wear and tear on the vehicles so they require a lot of maintenance,” said Marion County Ambulance District Chief John Nemes.

The Marion County Ambulance District is facing severe shortages for new vehicles and equipment. Nemes said they have nine ambulances and five of them are scheduled to be re-mounted.

Chief John Nemes ordered five new chassis, or the base frames for the ambulances, last July. Ongoing supply chain issues allowed them to receive only one of five.

“When we have ambulances down, we have had three trucks out of service,” Nemes said. “We are forced to deal with that and being able to jockey around to keep your trucks running has been fairly difficult, between routine maintenance and breakdowns.”

Captain and Paramedic Chris Dolbeare said they are even facing vehicle part shortages.

“Something simple as a headlight can be a big production sometimes, with shortages throughout the united states and being able to get them here,” Dolbeare said.

Nemes said they spend more money to maintain the old vehicles and equipment they currently have while they wait for new ones to come in.

“We have had extremely high maintenance, considerably more than we budgeted for this year because the trucks are no longer in warranty, so all the expenses to repair the vehicles come out of our pocket,” Nemes said.

Nemes said their budget is still in a good place right now. However, he said smaller ambulance districts in Northeast Missouri are struggling to afford their ongoing vehicle maintenance.

They expect to get the other chassis for the four remaining ambulances before the end of January.

Nemes said the new vehicles will have gasoline engines to cut down on fuel costs.

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