NORTH ADAMS — There's a new aroma wafting through the headquarters of North Adams Ambulance.
It's that new-car smell.
In March, the ambulance service took delivery of two brand-new ambulances — 2016 Chevrolet McCoy Miller Type III ambulances. In January, the service bought a new medic interceptor vehicle, a 2016 Ford Expedition.
The cost for all three totaled $309,000.
The two decommissioned ambulances, both of them 2009 Chevrolets, had over 200,000 miles on them, said John Meaney Jr., general manager of North Adams Ambulance. They were traded in.
"We were going to be spending a lot on maintenance, and given our increased travel time to Pittsfield in the last two years, it became apparent that they needed to be replaced," he said.
So the truck committee was formed to list the vehicle needs and evaluate the different models available.
The best deal turned out to be for the two 2016 Chevrolet trucks sold by Yankee Fire and Rescue in Palmer. They cost $133,000 each.
Meaney said the new ambulances have a wheel base of 146 inches, four inches more than the retired vehicles. There was a wider vehicle available, and a narrower one, but the size of the vehicle bays made the mid-sized wheel base more practical.
"This size meets our needs very well and it fits in our bay nicely," Meaney said. "Space is limited."
The vehicles feature center-mounted cots, meaning that EMTs can access the patient from either side, and still have room to carry all the supplies and equipment required. The new ambulances are identical and are designed specific to state and federal specifications with proper lighting, back-up cameras, chevron markings for increased visibility and the newest design in safety\restraint systems.
"For our patients, it is going to be a more comfortable, smoother ride, and a bit more spacious," Meaney said.
The ambulance service also paid $43,000 for the new Ford Expedition from MHQ in Marlborough. The medic interceptor vehicle, or Medic 1, is used by the shift supervisor to travel to scenes of accident or injury. It is also used to travel off-road to get to patients unreachable by ambulance.
It can carry a patient and medic in the back. Medic 1 also transports the Special Operations/Responder Rehab Trailer throughout the county to assist other agencies in keeping their responders safe.
The cost of Medic 1 was partially defrayed by donations from Iberdrola Renewables, MountainOne Bank and the North Adams Ambulance subscription drive, which raised $55,000 last year, Meaney said.
The old Expedition medic interceptor was sold to the Rowe Fire Department for use as a rescue vehicle, Meaney said.
The other existing vehicles in use by North Adams Ambulance include three other ambulances — a 2009 Ford, a 2014 Ford and a 2014 Chevrolet.
"We feel that we have a pretty solid fleet now, and hopefully we'll be good for another five years," Meaney said. "My goal is to put our employees in the best situation possible to do their jobs so they can continue to effectively serve the patients we care for. This means providing modern equipment that will allow us to continue building a state-of-the-art, progressive EMS agency committed to transportation safety."
North Adams Ambulance, established in 1977, serves five cities and towns — North Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, Monroe, Rowe, Stamford and Readsboro, Vt. — spanning more than 200 square miles. In 2015, 50 staff members responded to over 5,500 requests for assistance and transport.