From left, paramedic Tom Smith, fleet manager Byron Braden and Aero Methow Rescue Service board president Terry Karro prepare to christen the organization’s new ambulance at a community gathering last weekend. Photo courtesy of Aero Methow Rescue Service

From left, paramedic Tom Smith, fleet manager Byron Braden and Aero Methow Rescue Service board president Terry Karro prepare to christen the organization’s new ambulance at a community gathering last weekend. Photo courtesy of Aero Methow Rescue Service

By Don Nelson

Aero Methow Rescue Service christened a new ambulance at a community celebration last weekend, the first time in 15 years the organization has added a new vehicle to its fleet.

The $177,000 ambulance was purchased with the help of grants from the Moccasin Lake Foundation, Lost River Winery (which donated 2 percent of sales from its Community Red wine), and the estate of the late Red McComb, as well as from Aero Methow fleet manager Byron Braden’s donation to commemorate his late brother Steve Braden, said Director of Services Cindy Button.

Button said Aero Methow will maintain a fleet of four ambulances. An older vehicle at Mazama will be phased out and replaced with one of three ambulances Aero Methow purchased in 1998. There will continue to be an ambulance in Winthrop and two, including the new one, in Twisp.

The new rig will go into service on Aug. 29, Button said. For now, Aero Methow employees and volunteers are learning to drive it, so the ambulance may be making appearances around the valley.

It won’t be easy to miss. The new vehicle is built on a Dodge truck chassis, has a diesel engine and features four-wheel drive.

Button said the ambulance was built to Aero Methow specifications to ensure a safe, convenient working area for emergency medical technicians and paramedics. She said the ride is smoother and quieter than in the older ambulances.

Aero Methow plans to replace its current fleet with a new ambulance every other year, Button said.