Johnson County Ambulance Service debuts new ambulance with safety features unique to eastern Iowa

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) - Ambulances in Johnson County got an upgrade, but paramedics said one of them is unlike any other in eastern Iowa.

The Johnson County Ambulance Service debuted its newest ambulance, A-28, better known as Adam-28, in Iowa City on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)

The Johnson County Ambulance Service added a new vehicle that now has safety features that leaders said are not in other ambulances. Its name is A-28, better known as Adam-28.

For 20-year veterans like Jeremy Peck, who serves as the Assistant Director for the ambulance service, the vehicle is a product of the ethos of the county department.

"We basically decided that safety was one of our number one features that we were going put into this truck," Peck said.

Those safety additions range from brighter lights, low-frequency sirens people can hear in soundproof cars or while wearing headphones, and 360-degree cameras outside the vehicle to help navigate busy crowds like at Kinnick Stadium.

Features inside the vehicle include new harnesses for medics, built-in airbags, and a system that helps medics get a cot into the ambulance. One of the more important safety features includes a camera view into the back of the ambulance, that leaders like Director Fiona Johnson said will help people who need the ambulance, but the medics, too.

"I'd love to say that assaults on EMS don't happen, but it does," Johnson said. "Or, even if a patient were to deteriorate and the partner then needs to stop the ambulance to assist, it's just more information, more knowledge, is key."

Johnson said a typical ambulance costs about $175,000. This ambulance with the new safety features was $233,000.

What makes the ambulance unique, outside of the price, is that staff with the ambulance service in the county designed it themselves over the span of nearly one year.

"We just went to work on it, decided what we needed, what was best, what worked into the truck that we chose," said Peck, who served on the safety committee to help design the ambulance.

Through the help of Peck and other committee members, it allowed their newer director in Johnson, who has held the position for the last two years, approve the new standard for an ambulance in the county for years to come.

"I wanted their buy-in, I wanted them to create what is needed, and I believe them, I trust them," Johnson said.

Johnson said from now on, all new ambulances will include features that are similar to A-28. The county's ambulance department has nine total trucks and replaces one every year as part of the department budget.

Johnson said the next fiscal year in 2021 will be the next time the ambulance service gets a new truck.