Two new ambulances will soon be added to the West Side Community Ambulance fleet.

The purchase authorized by the ambulance board comes as two of West Side’s three primary ambulances are approaching the maximum allowable mileage to remain in service, said Michael Courtney, director of ambulance operations.

Furthermore, Courtney told Mattos Newspapers, West Side will be resuming primary responsibility for covering the Santa Nella area no later than July 1 so an additional in-service unit will be required.

West Side currently staffs two units on a full-time basis. A 2017 Ford Transit is the newest unit, with 2011 and 2013 year models comprising the remainder of the primary fleet. West Side’s fourth unit in the existing fleet is a little-used 2008 box-style ambulance.

When the provider assumes responsibility for Santa Nella a third, 12-hour car will be added, according to Courtney.

“If you are going to run three ambulances you are going to need two backups,” Courtney stated.

When the two new ambulances, which are also Ford Transit models, go into service they and the 2017 unit will be the front line ambulances, with the 2011 and 2013 as backups.

The added ambulance will be available to help provide coverage to Newman and Gustine when the other two cars are transporting or providing mutual aid elsewhere, Courtney noted.

“The three cars that we have will support each other,” he said, adding that West Side will also have the support of neighboring providers through mutual aid agreements.

“We will put the two new cars in Gustine and Newman and the (2017) in Santa Nella. It will cover the Santa Nella area but can also float back and cover (Newman-Gustine) as needed,” said Dennis Brazil, ambulance board president.

The net effect will be a higher level of service for the local communities, he stated.

With a competitive job market for EMTs and paramedics, Courtney acknowledged that he is “a little concerned” about staffing the additional 12-hour car.

“Recruiting has been tough. We have a lot of competing entities around us,” he commented. “We just have to find the right people. We’ll get there.”

Ambulance board members approved the $200,000 purchase of the two new ambulances at their Dec. 17 meeting.

Courtney said the healthcare district is looking into the possibility of purchasing one ambulance outright and financing the second.

“We left it up to staff to decide if it made more sense to pay for one outright or just go ahead and finance them both,” Brazil noted.

With the double purchase, Courtney said, he does not anticipate West Side will need to look at purchasing another new ambulance for two to three years.

Board members have expressed an interest in developing a capital replacement plan to begin putting money aside for future ambulance purchases.