Buying & Building a Medium Ambulance into an RV – The FAM-BULANCE


I'm part of an emergency vehicle upfitter's group - those guys who add equipment to LE vehicles like emergency lighting, K9 kennels, radios, etc. The most common questions we ask each other usually are "where can I connect to a park-sense line..." or similar. All the vehicles being set up as LE (law enforcement) vehicles have become 99.9% computer-based - the old days of just tapping into something are long gone.

The group references the various manufacturer's upfitter guides regularly, but the many voids in the manual mean we have to work with each other to figure out a solution.

Emergency lighting is now computer controlled, radio antenna holes need to fall into a specific location, side mounted spotlights are going through heat treated body sections (hole saw killers!).

A car that has been ordered with a police package has different connector locations than a standard vehicle, but PDs regularly convert a spare "civilian" car to PD usage.

The installation of a LE equipment package can easily take an experienced installer 2-3 days.

And that is why I am very glad that the medium trucks that we convert to RVs are old enough that they aren't entirely computer based. The only computers in my 1999 Freightliner / Medic Master are for the engine and the Anti-Lock brake system.

If your module (ambulance portion) is set up for conventional relay-diode control with toggle switches, you have a system that can be repaired with a couple bucks worth of parts - but if your system is controlled by a proprietary system (such as the Horton Intelliplex), any parts or programming changes become complicated quickly. If you use the Weldon V-MUX system, plan on sticker shock if you need a new touch screen module ($2000 or so) or a connection node ($900 or so).

And if the manufacturer of your system is out of business (or if they won't support legacy equipment), then you have a challenge/problem/disaster to deal with.
Been a long time searching, but I finally tracked down enough LED replacement warning lights for the whole ambulance. When I bought it, the blue and red lenses were removed (as per Pennsylvania law), and replaced with clear lenses. I liked the idea of being able to use the emergency lights as warning lights, so I replaced the clear lenses with amber lenses. Better, but still halogen bulbs.

I decided about a year ago to keep my eyes open for Whelen 900 LED (or equal) amber lights- new, used - it didn't matter. I then also decided to look for LED scene lights. After months of searching (and with the help of my ambulance electrician friends), I found enough amber with a clear lens to do the job. I have Whelen on the sides, and TecNiq on the rear.

Finding LED scene lights was a real challenge - apparently, everyone who knows what they are, wants them. After a lot of talking to my emergency electrician friends, I tracked down four Whelen M9 scene lights. And that's where my luck stopped.

Then, out of the clear blue sky, I found a TecNiq dealer who had bought out another dealer, and he had some surplus scene lights, so now my search for LED lights is completed!

I'll gradually peck away at switching my 16 Whelen 97 halogen lights for LEDs.

Anyone need Whelen 97 halogen lights, amber lenses, blue lenses, or red lenses?

Note that on TecNiq scene lights, the individual LED lenses all point downward. The result is lighting both next to the ambulance, and out from it.
scene lt front.JPG


Expedition Leader
Now, you've just got to climb up that ladder and change them all out.

When I change mine out, I'm thinking about separating my Little Giant ladder to make two 'A' frame ladders, and using a scaffolding board along the side. Since I'm going to re-align and re-drill all my mounting holes so I can use the nylon anchors, it's going to take a lot longer. My back injury won't allow me to stand on a ladder rung for very long before the mussels start cramping up.
Many years ago, I wound up with an air operated barrel dumper. It was air operated since it was designed for use with flammable materials. The air hoist had a standard paving breaker "Chicago" air fitting, so I knew it might be an air hog. At the time, I really wanted a work platform, so the creature got a platform, complete with side bars and a safety chain. It looked like it had just crawled out of the scrap dumpster, but it was designed to lift 1000# 8 ft off the ground. I could roll it into place, set its brakes, and then easily access things that otherwise would have needed a ladder.

It probably weighed 400# or so all by itself, but it did the job just fine. It's long gone now, but there are still days when I wish I still had it (along with the large shop).

A scaffolding plank between two ladders will probably be my substitute.