So a few people have asked for it and I am a man of my word so here is a review of my work truck aka the Vanbulance.

(Full Disclosure: Ford wanted me to review their E-350 so badly they made me go through a semester long course to get my EMT license then go through interviews at several private ambulance companies before getting hired at Trace.)


Now there are two types of ambulance companies out there, The municipalities which would be your city's fire department, and the private companies which is what Trace is. The biggest difference would be the fire departments get you to the closest hospital as quickly as they can. The privates will take you anywhere. Lets say your loved one fell in a nursing home and hurt their hip, If you call a private we could take her to say Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago even though its a 45 minute trip because thats where her hip replacement surgeries were. Now once she is better its time for her to go back to rehab but you want her at a rehab facility close to you in say, St. Louis. My Company will gladly take her the 7 hour drive down their.

These ambulances get their fair share of use. Most if not all of our basic ambulances have north of 80 thousand miles on them even though the oldest ones are 2012 models. Usually they get replaced right around 160 thousand miles. If one is in an accident it gets fixed and put back out on the street hence why a lot of the passenger side airbag covers are open.

Exterior: 7/10

Its a van. However it does seem to be one of the higher trim levels with the chrome grill and the non-sealed beam headlights unlike our companies Med-cars. Plus its got a sweet graphics package so you know who we are and even has the backwards AMBULANCE written across the front. Light duties are served by an LED light bar and LEDs on the grill. All the other lights are just your standard bulbs. Wheels are steelies with plastic hubcaps. It doesn't have flowy lines or curves but it does have a presence on the road which helps when we are trying to get from one place to another quickly.


Interior: 4/10

It sucks. I'm not even going to sugar coat it. We have stiff vinyl seats that don't really recline. The center console/transmission cover eats into our legroom. Most of the vents are broken so you can't direct heat or air, and the cup holders bottoms have holes in them so they essentially become medical tape hammocks for our drinks. It sucks being cooped up in here for 13 hour shifts or longer and sleep only comes to those under 4'10 or contortionists or both.


With that said there are a lot of things to play with between the light controls and the sirens and the radios. Lights are on two of the center console toggle switches and the sirens are on a control knob up towards the top of the dash.

Oh and there is an aux jack in the gas rigs so at least we aren't at the mercy of AM/FM all day.


Acceleration: 6/10

This particular Ambulance makes it's power with Ford's 5.4L 2 Valve SOHC V8 which in this application makes 255 HP and 323 lb-ft of torque. It's not very fast per se, in fact it has a speed governor at 90MPH but thanks to all that torque it does move away from stop lights and highway entrance ramps with some purpose. It pulls like a freight train.


Braking: 6/10

Well it stops. Brakes are discs all around which come in handy when jackwagons pull out in front of you when you're running lights and sirens. There is quite a bit of brake fade though when pushed into multiple panic stops.


Ride: 4/10

The ride can really be reviewed from two spots, in the cab and in the back. In the cab its really not too bad thanks to cushioned seats and the very heavy engine keeping the front planted when driving over Chicago's notorious pot holes. In the back its a different story, it is on leaf springs and gets very bouncy going over those same pot holes or speed bumps or railroad tracks. The back isn't really a fun place to be so avoid it if at all possible.


Handling: 7/10

Handling is surprisingly good. No, it's not going to do well on a race track or AutoX, but for everyday use it goes where you want it to. Thanks to it being basically a work truck there isn't a lot of expensive nannies for the steering or suspension so you actually do get a great feeling on the road. Makes moving in and out of traffic quite easily. Also thank god for power steering, i've had to drive one of these when the power steering quit and it was miserable.


Toys: 9/10

There's a lot of them. We have the power stretcher which saves our backs. Our stair chair has tracks on them making it easier to take patients down flights of stairs. The lights and sirens are fun to play with (when appropriate of course, people have been fired for abusing them.) There is also the AED, the portable suction, psych restraints, backboards (which also make great sleds during down time and blizzards) and a jump bag full of all sorts of goodies. Frankly the only things we don't have are drugs, IV kits, and the heart monitors but thats because I am just an EMT-Basic not a Paramedic.


Value: 10/10

So to be honest I don't have an exact price on one of these. I usually hear figures north of 100K dollars which sounds about right. There is a lot of stuff that goes in to equipping these and getting them ready for street use. However you can't really put a price on one of these when you really need it so that's why it gets a 10. Lets hope you don't need it though.


Final Total: 53/100

Sampsonite24 is your resident EMT and has been running around in these ambulances for the past 2 years, before that he was a minion of Best Buy and other retail hell holes. His daily is a Saturn SC2 which he plans to turn into a rallycross monster once his new baby approved vehicle arrives. (Monster is used VERY loosely.) And he loves to answer any and all questions related to my job.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter