SHELBY – It’s nearly been a calendar year since Shelby Fire Chief Mike Thompson placed an order for the department’s newest ambulance unit.

Tuesday, Thompson and his fellow firefighters felt like kids on Christmas morning as Unit 33 rolled up to the station at 40 High School Ave.

Ambulance unit with "Rescue 33" displayed on driver door.
Shelby Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson placed the purchase order for the new unit in October 2022.

New unit will play vital role

“It’s important to have this squad,” Thompson said. “We’re hauling human-cargo at the worst time, so we’ve got to have a machine that is absolutely reliable, 100 percent.”

Thompson wrote the purchase order in October 2022, which was also the month the fire department took over EMS transport for the City of Shelby.

“With handling EMS, (the new unit is) vitally important,” he said. “We have enough double runs, where both ambulances are on the road, that we have to have things that are reliable.”

The Shelby Fire Department took over all emergency medical service (EMS) transport on Oct. 13, 2022.

Prior to the takeover, the city was outsourcing ambulance services to a private contractor. 

Shelby was the final department in Richland County to take over EMS services and will continue to handle emergency medical transport for both Jackson and Sharon Townships.

“This is a big step in us taking over EMS,” Thompson said. “It (ambulance) was one of the main things we had to get, another ambulance.”

Photo Gallery: Unit 33 debuts at Shelby Fire Dept.

  • Ambulance unit parked in front of fire station.
  • Interior of ambulance.
  • Firefighters look on as a man places a new powered cot into an ambulance unit.
  • Interior of ambulance.
  • Shelby Fire Department building exterior.
  • Ambulance unit parked in fire station garage.
  • Ambulance unit parked in front of fire station.
  • Powered cot inside of ambulance.
  • Shelby Fire Department building exterior.
  • Ambulance unit parked in front of fire station.
  • Ambulance unit with "Rescue 33" displayed on driver door.
  • Shelby Fire Department building exterior sign.

A much-needed purchase

With their latest acquisition, the fire department now possesses three ambulances.

Prior to Tuesday, the most recent vehicle purchased by the fire department was Unit 39, which Thompson said was three to four years ago.

“Our oldest squad here is a 2006, which will act as our third now,” he said. “It’ll back-up any of the others if they’re down on maintenance or out of town, those kinds of things.”

Thompson said two-thirds of the new unit was paid for by American Rescue Plan Act funding. 

All remaining costs were covered using the fire equipment fund, which is primarily supplied by the city’s contracts with Jackson and Sharon Townships, he said.

Unit 33 features injury-preventive technology

One feature the new unit includes is a powered cot, as opposed to the manual-lift cots in the department’s other units, Thompson said.

“The power-lift cots help eliminate back injuries,” he said. “So that’s a nice feature with the new ambulance.”

Thompson said the fire department also received a grant from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Ambulance unit parked in fire station garage.
Unit 39, prior to Tuesday, was the fire department’s most up-to-date ambulance.

Grant funds will go towards their purchase of a powered cot for Unit 39, he said.

“We’re going to get the new one (ambulance) in service first,” he said. “Then this one (Unit 39) will take one-day to put the cot in.”

As excited as the fire department is to have the new unit parked within its walls, Thompson said everyone needs to remain patient just a bit longer.

“We’re anxious to get it on the road for services, but it’s going to take a little bit,” he said. “We have to get some equipment in it and figure out some things.”

The arrival of Unit 33 marks another significant event for the city’s fire department throughout the past year, Thompson said.

“We’ve added manpower, added the squad, and took over all EMS services,” he said. “It has been one heck of a year.”

Staff reporter at Richland Source since 2023. I focus on the city of Shelby and northern Richland County news. Shelby H.S./Kent State alum. Have a story to share? Email me at