New 4WD Ambulance Arrives at Ruby Valley Emergency Medical Services

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

When it comes to emergency medical services, reliability saves lives. Working from this axiom, Katherine Tetrault, PA-C, Medical Director for the Ruby Valley Emergency Medical Services, embarked on a two year project to obtain a new 4WD ambulance with financial assistance from the Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation and the Montana Department of Motor Vehicles Emergency Medical Services. The new 4WD ambulance, which arrived in Sheridan on July 7th, will not only provide more reliable transportation for the emergency services teams but it will also improve safety and comfort for the EMTs and patients, and enhance the pre-hospital delivery of healthcare.

To support the needs of a rural community with many miles of rugged roads, the Ruby Valley EMS has long needed to enhance the segment of their fleet equipped with 4WD. These vehicles are the lifeline for backcountry and deep winter emergency care. In 2018, Tetrault determined that the primary source for financing a 4WD ambulance could be a grant program from the Montana Department of Motor Vehicles Emergency Medical Services (MDOT-EMS) which was set up by the 2009 legislature. Having no experience with grant writing, Tetrault turned to Nondi Harrington, Fundraising Manager with the Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation, who applied her extensive experience in grant writing to the project. Unfortunately, the grant application would have to wait a year as the MDOT-EMS grant program requires that applicants must be in service for over a year. The Ruby Valley EMS had only been in operation since late 2017, following a transition from the Ruby Valley Ambulance Service.

In 2019, Tetrault and Harrington were successful in obtaining the grant for a $225,000 4WD Ford F-450 power stroke diesel ambulance. “There is a lot of competition for these grants, so it’s remarkable that the Ruby Valley EMS received the grant the first year it was eligible to apply,” said Tetrault. She added that the Ruby Valley EMS won’t be able to apply for another grant for a long time. The Ruby Valley EMS was one of three 2019 ambulance grant recipients. The other two recipients are located in Superior and Lakeside.

A 10% matching donation is required to obtain the MDOT-EMS grant, so Harrington fired-up the resources of the Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation to raise $22,500 needed for the match. Additional funds would also be needed to purchase ancillary equipment and supplies for the new ambulance. The Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation raised $21,000 at the annual Round Barn fundraiser in August, 2019 with all funds designated specifically for the new ambulance expenses. An additional $50,000 had been donated to the Healthcare Foundation in December, 2018, by the Ruby Valley Ambulance Service, designated for ambulance procurement matching funds. These funds had previously been donated to the volunteer service by the residents of the Ruby Valley. Opportunity Bank also donated $4,000 toward the cost of acquiring the new ambulance.