By Alan M. Petrillo
While standardized lines of vehicles built by ambulance makers are the norm, more and more buyers are asking makers to customize rigs to meet their special requirements.
The type of customization varies with the needs of the department or agency as well as the job that will be required of the ambulance, but manufacturers say some unusual custom ambulances have been requested from the customer’s side of the transaction.
Chad Newsome, national sales manager for PL Custom Body and Equipment Co. Inc., says PL Custom has made a number of “very custom” ambulances but that the company always is cognizant of customized elements that might make the rig unsafe from a design standpoint. “For example, a customer might want a number of extremely heavy components on one side of the truck, which would mean the truck is not balanced for its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR),” Newsome points out. “Or, they might spec the vehicle where the electrical needs exceed the generating capacity of the truck itself, which would cause us to look at additional sources of power.”
Newsome adds that PL Custom continues to update its basic designs to comply with all standards coming out in the industry as well as the spirit of those safety standards, such as how to keep people seat belted and secured to minimize risk yet still able to do their job effectively and efficiently in the back of the rig. He says that some states go by the federal General Services Administration KKK-A-1822 specification for ambulances, while others adopt National Fire Protection Association 1917, Standard for Automotive Ambulances, for the regulations. Newsome says some customization changes came about, “when KKK changed its standard for securing equipment inside the box, such as portable oxygen tanks, monitors, and cot retention.”