Dangers Facing EMS: Shortage of Ambulances

Dangers Facing EMS - ambulance shortage

Dan Sullivan, the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of the Strategic Coach® Program, developed a methodology for assessment named D.O.S., which stands for Dangers, Opportunities, and Strengths.

Dangers refer to things we are afraid of losing, opportunities offer the possibility to gain something, and strengths encompass our unique skills and abilities. In the upcoming blog series, EMERGICON will utilize this methodology to assess the Emergency Medical Services industry and offer insight on how to mitigate dangers, capitalize on opportunities, and develop the strengths that are most impactful.

Danger: Shortage of Ambulances

An ambulance shortage in the Dallas area is reaching a such critical mass that Mayor Eric Johnson wrote a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to ask for assistance. It’s a perfect storm situation contributing to this public safety crisis that goes well beyond Dallas.

First, the global supply chain challenges and microchip shortage are having an impact. Kodiak, which represents the emergency vehicle market, started warning its customers of the global supply chain challenges and semiconductor shortage in the summer of 2021. They offered advice on how to handle the issue to continue to meet community needs. But it still continues today.

The auto market after the pandemic also is affecting the ambulance supply. Pre-pandemic, a new ambulance could be ordered and delivered within 90-120 days. Now that time frame is taking at least 24 months. As the mayor wrote in his letter, manufacturers notified the city of Dallas they are not able to fill orders for 27 ambulance chassis and 401 heavy equipment vehicles.

All of these longer wait times are stacked on top of the local weather that wreaked havoc in the Dallas area. The unusual August 2022 “thousand-year” flooding event caused the Dallas area to lose more than 50 emergency response vehicles, half of which are police cars. According to Johnson, it will take more than a year to replace them.

The shortage of ambulances is affecting communities across Texas, which also agreed to participate in the letter to the U.S. Transportation Secretary. In Austin, for example, the city is spending an extra $3 million/year on maintenance costs to keep older ambulances running, since it is behind in purchasing 15 ambulance chassis. The City of Houston is dealing with canceled orders by several manufacturers. GM, for example, canceled 99% of the city’s 2022 orders with not much change expected for 2023.

The bottom line: Mayor Johnson asked Buttigieg to prioritize the production of first responder vehicles. This manufacturing issue affects public safety in Texas and beyond. We are pleased Mayor Johnson is voicing his concern and asking for assistance. Our community deserves this.

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