New Tonopah ambulance almost ready to roll

The town of Tonopah is all set to see a new addition to the fleet that provides emergency medical transportation to the community and surrounding areas.

However, even with a new ambulance just weeks away from operation, the Tonopah Volunteer Ambulance Service remains in the grip of a struggle to survive.

Nye County is doing what it can to bolster the service, but in the end, only the generous offering of volunteer time by members of the local communities can provide the resolution the volunteer force ultimately needs.

“Thanks to SolarReserve in Tonopah and the Nye County commissioners, we are soon to receive the first of three new ambulances being built by Northstar Emergency Vehicles in Chehalis, Washington,” Nye County Emergency Management Director Vance Payne proudly announced late last month.

The first of the recently purchased vehicles will be making its way to the Tonopah community in just a few days. In total, SolarReserve committed $100,000 toward the purchase and the county took out a medium-term loan in the amount of $400,000 to finance the remainder of the cost for the three vehicles.

“This first one will go to Tonopah Station 11 and the other two to Beatty Station 31 and Smoky Valley Station 21,” Payne informed the public. “Our patients and responders will be much safer and comfortable in these new rigs!”

The new ambulance set for Tonopah is taking the place of one that was destroyed in a crash in October 2017.

“This rig replaces the Tonopah ambulance that was totaled several months ago. A boulder had rolled into the road on Route 6. The driver was blinded by an oncoming vehicle’s headlights and never saw the boulder,” Payne explained of the accident.

“The impact ripped the entire front suspension from the chassis. Fortunately, no one was injured!” Shortly after that crash, SolarReserve stepped forward to offer the $100,000 donation that helped pay for the new ambulance.

According to Nye County Public Information Officer Arnold Knightly, a member of Nye County Emergency Management was set to board a plane to fly to Washington today, Feb. 8. Following a day of tests and examinations to ensure all is fit and ready to go, the staff member will begin the trek home on Feb. 10. The ambulance will undergo another couple of weeks of prep work, Knightly said, and then it will be ready to hit the road.

In the latest presentation on the volunteer ambulance service, Payne stated that the county is estimated to spend approximately $26,000 from Dec. 26, 2017 through the end of February to provide a county-paid person to support the service. Despite this, the service continues to fight to stabilize.

“Even with this expenditure, Station 11 is not always in service because we just absolutely do not have enough volunteers to cover this schedule,” Payne explained.

While the volunteer force to man the ambulance service may still be in dire need of help, the new ambulance at least represents a positive for the area and its citizens and was something Nye County officials were glad to see.

“Although Nye County is not able to solve all the challenges our volunteers face, I am excited to be able to provide some new equipment,” stated Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman, who has been fighting to solve the emergency medical transportation issues in her district for years.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes