CRESTVIEW, Fla. (WKRG) — In Okaloosa County, a new, not-so-typical heavy duty ambulance is ready to serve the Okaloosa County community.
The county’s newest ambulance is a Ford F-550, four-wheel drive truck with more space in the back to better serve its patients.
Okaloosa County has about 200 unpaved roads, said Okaloosa County public information officer Christopher Saul, which makes it hard at times to get to patients with a standard ambulance when they need it most.
The new ambulance can take on Crestview’s toughest terrain. News 5’s mobile journalist Daniel Smithson took a ride on the ambulance Wednesday afternoon. The ride was smooth, even on a wet dirt road.
Saul told News 5 the new ambulance was paid for using insurance money. About 6 months ago, a cement truck hit and totaled one of the county’s ambulances while first responders were on the way to an emergency call. The first responders were injured but they’ve all recovered.
It’s unfortunate that the incident happened, Saul said, but it’s fortunate that something good could come from it. The ambulance cost more than $170,000.
Richea Driskell, an EMS paramedic with Okaloosa County, said the new ambulance will cut down on response times and the extra room in the back of the ambulance allows paramedics to work more smoothly.
Driskell said she hopes other counties, like Santa Rosa and Walton Counties, will get four-wheel drive ambulances to make sure they’re always prepared.
Driskell, who has worked with the county for 18 years, said she loves serving the community in which family and friends live in. She said people often don’t realize the sacrifices first responders make but they do it selflessly to help people when they’re in need.