Local News

Supply Chain Crisis Makes Finding New Vehicles An Ongoing Struggle

The United States and the rest of the world continues to suffer from a supply chain disruption that, coupled with a worker shortage and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, his hitting the economy hard. Both public and private industries are finding it hard to even the basics needed to continue operations.
One of those basics is transportation.
Ambulances
Alan Rosenthal, Director of Ambulance District # 33, gave a report to Jefferson County Commissioners on the ambulance fleet at a meeting on Tuesday, December 28. He noted there is an ambulance shortage.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes set the standards for ambulances. Rosenthal said, “It kind of governs ambulance manufacturing, like what needs to be in an ambulance for it to meet federal regulations, guidelines for safety.”
Changes to the guidelines mean District #33’s ambulances will need to be retrofitted to accommodate a new cot restraint system. Rosenthal said, “It’s a system that secures the the stretcher in the back of the ambulance. Ours are okay because we purchased them prior to that going in effect. So they’re like grandfathered in.”
The estimated cost per ambulance is $20,000 and there are three ambulances that need to be updated.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts issued an Executive Order temporarily waiving the requirement for sale of used vehicles. Before that Executive Order, Rosenthal explained, “You can’t buy or sell a used ambulance because, as soon as you try and transfer that ambulance, it doesn’t meet the federal safety standards anymore.”
“Because of the crisis with not having enough ambulances available,” said Rosenthal. “What that did was lifted the ability for people to transfer ambulances and buy and sell used ones.”
There is a need for used ambulances because of the shortage of new vehicles. Rosenthal said, “With manufacturing delays, they can’t get chassis to build new ones.”
Law Enforcement
Later in that same meeting, Jefferson County Sheriff Nick Georgi met with Commissioners to talk about problems he has had in purchasing a new truck. Georgi had previously made a deal to buy a pickup truck in Missouri. However, Georgi said, “Basically, we found out the vehicle, they had rented it out, because it had been on their lot for so long. They wouldn’t tell me who they rented it to.”
Georgi said, “Then they just quit returning my phone calls.”
The Sheriff was eventually able to locate another vehicle, for $42,500.
School Vehicles
The Fairbury Public Schools Board of Education voted to cancel the purchase of a new van at their meeting on Monday, December 13, due to a delay in delivery.
FPS Superintendent Stephen Grizzle said, “We’ve waited since March, I think, since we placed the order.”
Instead, the Board voted to purchase a used van from a local dealer that does have availability now.
Other Vehicles
The struggle has been going on for some time. Jefferson County Commissioner Mark Schoenrock attended a meeting for Blue River Area Agency on Aging (BRAAA) on Monday, September 27, with Senators Tom Brandt (District 32) and Senator Myron Dorn (District 30). Schoenrock reported, “The main thing I want to tell you about BRAAA, guys, is we’re having a challenge with labor and with supplies to provide the services for our citizens out here our eight County area.
BRAAA serves the elderly in Southeast Nebraska in Gage, Jefferson, Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, And Thayer counties.
“Just to give you an example. We have four new buses on order that we were supposed to get this year. Now they’re telling us 2023,” Schoenrock said. “These old buses are shot. We have to spend money to keep these things running, functional and safe. It’s kind of like putting all this money down a rat hole that we normally would not do, but the alternative is not to put the money in there, and then we don’t provide that transportation service for people that depend on that.”

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