Image Adjustment

One of Chautauqua County’s primary ambulance providers is in the midst of a massive image overhaul.

Aside from a new logo, designed with the help of students at the State University at Fredonia, Alstar EMS is rolling out new equipment and several high-end ambulances.

The rebranding has been in the works for over a year and a half. At least two new ambulances, both Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, are already on the road. More vehicles are waiting to be put into service.

“We decided to do this rebranding for a couple of reasons,” said David Thomas, Alstar executive director. “People see WCA Services on the ambulances and they think hospital. Some of our administrative and billing is with the hospital, but we are 90 percent EMS.”

Alstar turned to Susan McNamara, associate professor at SUNY Fredonia’s School of Business, for help in designing a new image. With the help of her students, a simplified logo was created.

As for those Mercedes-Benz ambulances, Alstar turned to style and economy. The company puts a new vehicle into service every four to five years due to wear and tear of daily driving.

The new type II (van) ambulances, priced at more than $75,000 each, are getting almost twice the gas mileage of a typical ambulance.

“These don’t last long,” Thomas said. “They don’t get many miles to the gallon and they are driven hard. When we went out to look for new ones, we looked at what would work best for us over the next few years.”

Alstar also has two new box-type ambulances, also from Mercedes-Benz and priced at $90,000 each, that will come equipped with power-load stretchers. The hydraulic lift system raises and lowers patients in and out of an ambulance.

The power load system, which will complement power stretchers also used in most ambulances by Alstar, were purchased as the county sees more bariatric residents, Thomas said. Safety of patients and employees also were crucial.

“Our employees are prone to back injuries,” Thomas said. “I don’t want my folks to get hurt. It’s all about safety for us and our patients. We can’t stress that enough.”

The box-type ambulances are expected to be put into service this week.

Alstar EMS has two bases of operation: one in Jamestown, 28 Maple St., and one in Dunkirk, 738 Monroe St. The company averages 17,000 responses a year between its two operations.

Beginning Sunday, Alstar will celebrate EMS week, a nationally recognized week to honor first responders. This year’s theme is “EMS: One Mission. One Team.”