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What's in a Sunstar ambulance and how much does it cost?

Sunstar ambulances are basically rolling hospitals, with the equipment and supplies to treat anything from a stubbed toe to strokes and heart attacks. Ever wondered what's in them? Or what it costs to kit out an ambulance?

By ANNE LINDBERG, Times Staff Writer

Pinellas County owns the Sunstar ambulance system, which is funded by the approximately $41 million in user fees collected each year. The county pays Texas-based Paramedics Plus about $21 million a year from those user fees to buy ambulances, fuel and service them, hire and pay paramedics and emergency medical technicians to staff the vehicles, and transport emergency medical calls.

The 74 ambulances in the fleet are owned by Paramedics Plus, but the county has the right to take them should the company default or leave the county.

Pinellas pays Paramedics Plus another $2.8 million a year to buy supplies, such as bandages and drugs, for the ambulances and fire department vehicles that are used for emergency medical services. Most of that -- about $1.8 million a year -- is used for the Sunstar ambulances.

But how much does it cost to put an ambulance on the road? About $182,731 for supplies, equipment and ambulance personnel. Add another $122,939 for the ambulance itself, the gas and other related costs. That's about $305,670. And the county has up to 64 on the road at any one time.

Sources: Paramedics Plus, Pinellas County/Sunstar

Sunstar paramedic Bryan Findley , left, and emergency medical technician Trevor Jackson sit in the back of Sunstar ambulance unit No. 71, which is stocked with essential equipment and supplies.

Total: $161,016

Not shown: Temperature-controlled drug storage with contents, $1,694; EKG cabinet, $233; burn cabinet, $28; restraint cabinet, $265; pediatric cabinet, $432; IV cabinet, $269; action area, $287; airway bag, contents include portable oxygen, oxygen masks, other equipment, $747; Stryker stair chair, $2,305; scoop stretcher, $436; pediatric immobilizer, $182; Sager splint, $239; KED immobilizer ($112 each, two per ambulance), $224; head blocks ($4 per set, four sets per unit), $16; adult cervical collars ($4 each, four per vehicle), $16; portable suction unit, $480; EZIO intraosseous infusion system, $688; personal protective equipment kit, includes surgical masks, $24; blood pressure cuff, $11, and car seat, $147.
Total: $8,723

Electronics equipment not shown:
Mobile data terminal and OMG gateway (wireless network), $4,782; road safety system, $3,195; Motorola mobile $4,071; and Motorola UF pagers ($472 each, two per unit), $944.
Total: $12,992.

Total contents: $182,731

Sunstar ambulanceAmbulance

A. AEV Chevrolet/GMC Trauma Hawk Ambulance. Cost $120,000
B. Striping/lettering. $2,000
C. Fuel, 50-gallon tank, $219 to fill up at current prices
D. Tires, $720
Total: $122,939.

Source: Paramedics Plus

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