The Hampstead Volunteer Fire Engine and Hose Co. is sporting a new ambulance, while the Lineboro Volunteer Fire Co. is waiting for its new ambulance to be repainted and put into service.
Both ambulances replace lighter-weight vehicles and are built to keep up with increasing demands for higher levels of medical care.
After 18 months of legwork, Hampstead put its 1993 International medium-duty ambulance in service the first week of December, replacing a 1988 Ford light-duty ambulance.
"We got the medium-duty chassis to upgrade the payload we have to carry and upgrade the brakes," said Jack Brown, emergency medical services captain. "We're carrying more equipment now -- every couple of months they come out with something new for us."
The $123,000 vehicle was built to the fire company's specifications and needs, with compartment storage space rearranged and better seating, he said.
Fully equipped with paramedical drugs and equipment, the new ambulance includes two heart monitors with external pacemakers purchased by the company's auxiliary for $22,000, Captain Brown said.
The company is paying for the ambulance with money raised through bingo, breakfasts, the annual carnival and private donations.
But even with all these activities, the company had to take out a small loan for the ambulance. Proceeds from a March 19 oyster and ham supper will go into the ambulance fund, Captain Brown said.
To handle the more than 800 ambulance calls the company receives each year, two paid paramedics are on duty weekdays at the station.
"We had to do that because so many of our volunteers work during the week, and we figured it out that the average ambulance call is an hour and 45 minutes," Captain Brown said.
Although Lineboro answers about half as many ambulance calls as Hampstead, its need for a new ambulance was also great.
Right on the Pennsylvania border, Lineboro responds to southern York County calls, as well as to calls from Carroll County and northern Baltimore County when advanced life support care is needed, said emergency medical services Captain John Haney. "We ran [about] 425 calls in 1993, and that keeps going up every year by about 15 [percent] to 20 percent, even with Manchester's ambulance," he said.
Lineboro's $125,000, 1994 International medium-duty ambulance, however, was discovered to have some serious paint flaws when it was brought from the Ohio factory to the station at the end of December. It has since been returned to a local dealer for a new paint job.
"We hope to have it back by the end of next week; then we have to have the lettering painted on and radios installed," Captain Haney said.
"And the drivers have to be trained on it. We hope to have it in service by the middle of March."
There's also training to be done on using some new equipment, including a second heart monitor and other modernized rescue devices.
A large ambulance, tall enough for a man to stand up inside, the vehicle boasts an improved arrangement of all the paramedic equipment. It even has built-in tire chains, which deploy automatically at the push of a button. It replaces a 1985 Ford Road Rescue ambulance, Captain Haney said.
The Lineboro company used some money it received from the county, plus donations from patients, as a down payment on the new unit. About two-thirds of the cost was financed.
"We send a letter out to people we've taken calls on, and most of them send us a $50 to $100 donation. And when you figure that by 400 calls, we hope to have enough to pay off the loan in three years," Captain Haney said.
The new ambulance is expected to last 10 years.
One expense Lineboro doesn't have is paid paramedics. Unlike Hampstead, Lineboro still relies strictly on its volunteers, because many of its members work in town and Lineboro is a fire department town.
"The businesses are really good about letting people go on calls," Captain Haney said.