Within 45 days, Ellis County should have a new ambulance in its fleet, replacing one that is 16 years old and with more than 150,000 miles on it, according to Ellis County EMS director Kerry McCue.

Over the next 12 months, the county is buying two new ambulances. The first one to arrive will replace a 2003 Ford and the second a 2010 Chevy, which also has 150,000 miles on it.

“These trucks have been out of service more than they’ve been in service lately,” said McCue, speaking Monday at a meeting of the Ellis County Commission at the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main St.

At McCue’s recommendation, the commissioners approved a competitive bid for the two new ambulances from Osage Industries Inc., of Linn, Mo., for $373,080, despite it having the lowest trade-in allowance among the bidders.

“When we get done with a truck, it wouldn’t be the first truck to leave here on a flat bed,” McCue said. “About the trade-in value, we don’t get anything for these. There’s just no market for them after the fact. They used to be able to sell them to Third World countries. They can’t do that anymore … Unless you trade them off at 75,000 miles, when an ambulance is traded off it’s done.”

A planned purchase, the first ambulance should arrive from the manufacturer in a month-and-a-half, McCue said, and the other one should get here within 250 to 300 days. The county pays for them as they come in, he said.

Both trucks are overdue for replacement. The 2003 was originally scheduled for replacement in 2013, and the 2010 replacement was bumped from 2018 to 2019. Money for the purchase was earmarked in the Ellis County Capital Improvement Plan.

The 2020 budget for Emergency Services is predicated on reducing service and maintenance costs, McCue said, going on to mention the 2003 truck specifically.

“I think that truck is going to continue to cause us problems, even into 2020, so we are going to especially need to replace that truck in 2020 or it’s going to continue to cause us maintenance problems,” he said.

Typically the ambulance service gets about 10 years out of a truck, running it to 100,000 miles, but that could change since Hays Medical Center has become part of the University of Kansas Health System.

“Quite frankly, we’re going to KU a lot more,” McCue said. “Last week, we had one day where we went to KU and Kansas City twice in one day, and had a third opportunity and had to turn it down because we had two trucks on the highway. … Remember those type of transports are what offset the number of tax dollars that we put into the system.”

The last trucks the county bought were $195,000 each. These are $186,000.