October 18, 2013

by Stephen Jan in Olean, NY


You’d think that after 2 rallies in 2 ambulances, I’d have a good handle on acquiring used ambulances. Not really. To date, my best resource has been Craigslist - the global free-for-all listing that offers anything and everything from ocean view beach houses to pet alligators. After months of searching, we finally found a listing that yielded something solid that fulfilled our criteria: budget (less than 5K), and within driving distance (6hrs). Olean’s own Trans Am EMS was looking to replace a couple vehicles and were looking to offload their older vehicles.

The negotiation took a couple weeks of “This is my final offer, i won’t budge”, “lemme get back to you”, and a good amount of stalling from the other side. Luckily, there wasn’t anyone in the neighborhood looking to buy used ambulances and we managed to secure a deal.

Picking up the ambulance was supposed to be simple:

  1. Start drive to Olean, 5:30am (6 hours)
  2. Write check (10 minutes)
  3. Buy insurance from Geico (10 minutes)
  4. Olean DMV visit (30 minutes)
  5. Attach plates (30 minutes)
  6. Hertz rental car return (30 minutes)
  7. Drive to NJ (6 hours)

Estimated Total: 14 hours

Naturally, like all things Last Responders related, nothing ever goes as smoothly. Turns out that an E450 ambulance was in a weight class that Geico required us to get commercial insurance. The commercial car insurance people didn’t seem to appreciate that we were donating the vehicle within 6 months and refused to offer us even a quote. Instead they red flagged my account as a “short term buyer” and recommended that we “Google short term commercial car insurance” which yielded absolutely nothing. I spent the next several hours on the phone chasing insurance company to no available. We returned to New York without the ambulance we were looking for and spent a nervous week making phone calls to find auto insurance. After days of searching, something finally came up.


The team regrouped and drove up to pickup the ambulance. Once again we woke up at 5am and hauled ourselves over to Rochester. Learning the lessons of the first trip, our second trip was smoother. This time, we brought cash, had 6 points of ID for the DMV and had insurance in hand before we even crossed town lines.

Actual Total: 2 weeks

Here it is. Wish us luck: