The ambulance/rescue business is so broad that there is not one such vehicle that will be applicable to all organizations and all situations. Some organizations prefer ambulances which abide by America Standards (Type I and/or Type II and/or Type III) and some organizations prefer European Standard Ambulances (Type A and/or Type B and/or Type C).

It all depends on the client’s requirements.


Ambulance service companies need to look at their mission, goals, and objectives. They need to evaluate their resources and the services expected of them. While there is always value in considering what others are doing, you do not need to “keep up with the Joneses” regarding your vehicle. You need to get what is good for your system and service as you consider the finances available for your use. Besides the cost, contemplate specifics for your section and personnel such as training, drivability (your road system and congestion so you can negotiate traffic, streets, and parking lots), maintenance, weight, and safety.

In a perfect world, there might be carbon copies, but as much of the Ambulance service, there are differing opinions for what is the best system. Each organization depending on community gets to make its choice. Hopefully, it is an informed decision, so it selects the best method. Organizations have the option of Patient Transport Ambulance, Emergency Ambulance, or Mobile Intensive Care Unit (though there are some intermediates scattered about). They can have a governmental third service or private support through a hospital-based system or a private ambulance company.

Depending on your system, your vehicle should be commensurate with your delivery model.


Organizations have enjoyed successes with many types of vehicles and are often committed to their approach. As such, they will “brag” about their approach. They may be believers in “remounts” or basic “van-type” vehicles that are relatively inexpensive and disposable. On the other side of the argument are more heavy-duty vehicles that cost more but offer the advantages of a larger, more durable vehicle. One could make the case that there are successes in each approach, and service delivery and quality are in line with the expectations of the International community. Those decisions are made locally but should not be made in a vacuum. Those who ultimately make the decision need to know the advantages and disadvantages. (We will look into most vehicle types in the next articles)

While cost is certainly a factor, it needs to be weighed against the desired quality and likely outcomes. The more information you have that is based on logical views of the situation, the better chance you have to successfully procure a perfect ambulance.


The people who know the most about what the ambulance vehicle should be and how it should be outfitted are those who use it the most. They know what they need and what is most efficient and effective. With that said, they need direction. No one has a blank check, and there will always be financial considerations. You can use the knowledge of the end-user, but you need to give specific direction upfront. The vehicle must be designed based on what is needed for the overall goals of the organization and not any individual desire.  When considering EMS, the return on investment doesn’t always compute. But communities establish their level of risk through their taxing and funding mechanisms and amount. Provide the best service possible within the parameters established.


Service industries should always consider the recipient of the service. As such, whatever vehicle an organization selects should provide for the comfort and safety of the patient.  This can affect both smaller and heavy-duty vehicles. Cramped trucks make service delivery more challenging and uncomfortable during treatment and transport. Some of the heavier duty ambulances have stiff suspensions making the ride bumpier.  Consider that the patient is already starting off in an uncomfortable situation, you don’t want to add to it with a rough ride to the hospital. Again, knowing your desired service levels and overall use of the vehicle assists in making the right choices.

Ambulances used by EMS companies could vary from ambulances used by governmental Civil or Military Institutes which could also vary from ambulances used by Hospital/Medical Institutions as well as Fire departments. Occasionally, organizations will spend more time trying to determine paint schemes and colors and striping than they do truly evaluating their needs. While one can learn from others, not every model can be copied exactly.

With Emergency Medical Services accounting for most calls in most communities, obtaining a reliable, durable, and useful ambulance that is customized to your specifications should be a Top priority.

The only interaction many people will have will be with the EMS system. Give them a good service, which will include the best apparatus for the job.


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