Ride of Your Life
How Mary Greeley paramedics helped shape one of the safest ambulances in Iowa.
By Stephanie Marsau
On a wintry day in January 2014, an Allina Health ambulance collided with an SUV in Buffalo, Minnesota.
The accident would lead to important changes in ambulance design, and, ultimately, impact Mary Greeley’s ambulance fleet.
The medical center now has three new ambulances with technology and features that make them a safer ride for patients and paramedics. The design considered everything from new ways to store medical supplies to how the vehicle would absorb a crash. (See details of Mary Greeley’s new ambulances)
Mary Greeley is the first hospital in Iowa to have these advanced ambulances.
Allina Health is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Minneapolis. After the accident that critically injured its ambulance crew, Jeff Czyson, Allina’s director of Emergency Medical Services Workforce, decided it was time to create a safer ambulance.
He assembled a design team of mechanics, Allina Health leaders, EMTs, and paramedics to gather as much input as possible regarding the creation of a new rig.
Czyson took that information and approached three different manufacturers. He asked each to make a prototype, which his crews would test drive. He would then select a manufacturer to outfit Allina’s fleet.
Enter Crestline. The company has been building ambulances for more than 40 years and was selected to build Allina’s new fleet. The product Crestline created was an ambulance that was safer for both ambulance crews and the patients they transport.
Mary Greeley Connection
Fast forward to October 2016. Dieter Friton, director of Mary Greeley’s Mobile Intensive Care Services (MICS), was attending a trade show in Minneapolis. And there he saw it. The Icon 2.0.
“We are always trying to make ambulances safer for both our paramedics and our patients,” Friton said. “The Icon 2.0 had safety features that I’d never seen in an ambulance before and I knew that I needed to do what I could to get them at Mary Greeley.”
After contacting Crestline and having multiple conversations with Crestline rep Jeff Grasto, Mary Greeley’s own version of the Icon 2.0 began to take shape.
“We were excited about having a great ambulance that’s a great performer in numerous ways,” said Grasto. “We became even more excited, though, when Mary Greeley embraced the safety features and even offered up some suggestions of their own.”
One Mary Greeley paramedic who offered input was Aaron Boor.
“It was really a collaborative effort between us, Allina, and Crestline, which made the work really impactful,” said Boor. “We would make suggestions and take them to Crestline and Allina and vice versa. In the end, we ended up with an ambulance that’s better for everyone involved.”
With the design in place for Mary Greeley’s ambulances, Crestline went to work and in October 2018, Grasto proudly delivered three brand new ambulances to the medical center.
“I remember that day very vividly,” said Grasto. “The crews that were working the day we delivered them were so proud when we showed up. There was a little bit of excitement with there being a ‘shiny, new toy,’ but it was really more about the fact that they’d had input in this ambulance that was going to keep their patients safer.”
Grasto also mentioned that for Crestline, it’s about the paramedics as well.
“While we certainly want our ambulances to be safe for patients, we want paramedics to be safe as well,” said Grasto. “If there’s one thing we can do to make medics’ lives better, it’s to make sure they come home.”
Ready to Respond
The new ambulances have been in service at Mary Greeley since the beginning of 2019. There are currently no other ambulances like them in the state of Iowa.
“Our vision at Mary Greeley is simply ‘To be the best,’” said Friton. “These ambulances say that, as they are arguably the best ones on the market right now. We have some of the safest ambulances in the state of Iowa, and we are proud to be able to transport patients in them."