CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill., (WCIA) — Some ambulance providers feel their vehicles need critical improvements, but a national shortage is putting up a roadblock. 

The Champaign County Fire Cheifs Association (CCFCA) reached out to state leaders for help. In a letter to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, they said their equipment needs microchips to function and are concerned about the lack of them available for emergency vehicles. 

With fewer available, it’s costing ambulance companies more money and more miles. 

The medical gear and computers within the ambulances won’t function the same without the right microchips. 

Greg Chance, regional CEO for Advanced Medical Transport East and Medics First, said the microchip shortage is also making it hard to buy new vehicles. 

He said it creates challenges for them when they are trying to ensure they have the correct equipment when they receive a 911 call or have to transport a patient between facilities. 

“It’s a safety issue,” he added. 

Chance said many of their AMT vehicles have 150,000 – 250,000 miles on them. 

Paul Cundiff, Thomasboro fire chief and CCFCA president, is also involved with Arrow ambulances. He said many Arrow ambulances are approaching 300,000 miles. The problem will only get worse if they can’t receive new parts or new vehicles soon. 

“We’re being told by manufacturers, ‘don’t expect anything very soon.’,” Chance said. “In fact, perhaps at the earliest, we may see any new ambulances for our fleet not only here but in other locations in Illinois would be late 2023 or early 2024.”

The microchip shortage is affecting more than just ambulances. 

“There are departments that are looking to purchase vehicles for brush fires, or medical trucks, pickup trucks, anything from an F-150 to a 550.” 

Overall, Chance said these delays are also making it difficult to perform routine maintenance. 

“We have at least one ambulance set to the side because we can’t get the appropriate fuses to be installed. Which is a routine maintenance issue that we face every day,” he said. 

In the CCFCA’s letter to Sen. Duckworth, Cundiff said they asked for leaders to put pressure on microchip manufacturers to create a better priority for emergency vehicles. He said they sent the letter about a month ago and are waiting to hear back. 

Cundiff said the wear and tear could cause failures on the road, and they want to stay as safe as possible.