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EMSA Tests New Ambulance On Tulsa Streets

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

EMSA is trying to figure out if smaller ambulances are better than the current ones they use. 

Right now, it's testing a smaller model in Tulsa that's significantly cheaper.

The new model looks more like a van, which is why some people call it the "Vambulance". 

It's a European-style that still provides the same type of advanced care but it's half the cost. 

Now EMSA is trying to figure out if more of these should be on city streets.

Right now, EMSA is only using the slimmer, sleeker model for hospital transfers.

"If you call 911, you won't be transported in it,” said Kelli Bruer with EMSA.  

But it is equipped for 911 emergencies.

It's an ALS ambulance. That's short for Advanced Life Support.

"Basic triage and response, all the way up to cardiac arrest,” Bruer said.  

A box-style ALS ambulance rings in at $185,000 to $200,000 but the smaller models can be as cheap as $85,000 to $100,000. 

"We are facing in health care rising costs, diminishing revenue through state and federal funding,” Bruer said.  

Bruer said other cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and L.A. already use them. 

"We're reaching out to other cities around the country that have put these into practice and see if they can hold up to 911-type of use and service," Bruer said. 

There are some safety concerns, since its less noticeable on the road. 

"We are monitoring that, and we realize that and we've taken a lot of precautions, with our light bars, and our howler sirens that admit a low base that are hopefully overcoming the closed tightness of cars these days and loud music inside cars,” Bruer said.  

But even the big box-style ambulances aren't accident-proof.

"Just recently, have had a crash in Oklahoma City in which our ambulance was struck and rolled over. So, safety is paramount,” Bruer said, “we still have a lot of studying to do. We would never take a risk."

EMSA runs 30 to 40 hospital transfer calls a day so this ambulance is in the mix. 

It's too early to know if the savings could mean lower costs for patients. 

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