Mercedes Sprinter ambulance, left. and Ford ambulance. Ambulance Service of Manchester has almost completed a fleet change from the Fords to the Mercedes emergency vehicles. (Ambulance Service of Manchester / July 25, 2013)

3:24 p.m. EDT, July 25, 2013

by Jesse Leavenworth

MANCHESTER — A local ambulance company has made a substantial investment in its fleet over the past four years, gradually replacing Fords with what is now a German/American emergency vehicle.

Ambulance Service of Manchester is among the first medical response companies of its size in the nation to switch its line to Sprinter ambulances, ASM spokesman Dave Skoczulek said Thursday. Sprinters had been a Dodge product, but are now part of the Mercedes-Benz line.

At the end of the month, the company will have replaced 27 of its 28 ambulances with Sprinters. The only remaining Ford will be the company’s bariatric ambulance, which is equipped to handle heavy patients.

The diesel-powered Mercedes ambulances get three to four miles more per gallon than the Ford E-350 vans they replaced, have more head-room can remain in service longer with less maintenance and are equipped with a stablity system that the Fords lacked, Skoczulek said. Another advantage is the Sprinter’s sliding side door, a roadside safety improvement over the Fords, which had swing-out side doors.

The Sprinters arrive from Germany as spare vans and are outfitted as ambulances by North Carolina-based American Emergency Vehicles. The Dodge and Mercedes Sprinters have cost as much as $20,000 more than the $56,000 Fords, Skoczulek said, “but we felt that the improved gas mileage and decreased maintenance was worth the investment.”

“We didn’t expect to have to change after decades working in Fords,” he said, “but when the landscape shifted, we didn’t see anything comparable to the Sprinters as an overall package.” Read the story at The Hartford Courant