*Reprinted from Off-Road Magazine, May 2009

Building An Off Road Ambulance - Building An Action Ambulance
Making Sure West Shore Ambulance Service Can Get To You
By Larry Gross
Photography by Patrick O'Donahue, Chris Herring

It all started with an e-mail to the editor of OFF-ROAD. The West Shore Ambulance Service that takes care of Ocotillo Wells was having a real problem getting out to accident sites to rescue people. They were traversing through areas filled with off-road obstacles and sand dunes, and in a stock 2WD converted van! Not only did these vans have small tires and no four-wheel-drive, but they were also loaded down with a ton of extra weight due to the ambulance conversion. A rescue vehicle cannot afford to get stuck, and it needs to be able to make it out to accident victims. Something had to be done - if for no other reason than self-preservation! After all, it's likely going to be one of the staff members of OFF-ROAD magazine in back of this ambulance some day, and we want to make sure they get to us when we crash!

Action Van Ambulance Action Van Ambulance Action Van Ambulance Action Van Ambulance

We quickly went about masterminding a plan to get this ambulance outfitted for off-road use. We remembered an ad that we had seen in the back of this very magazine - an ad for heavy duty van suspension lifts for 2WD Ford vans. After flipping through the back pages of a couple past issues, we found the ad: Action Van Suspension. Well, if you can build an action van then you can certainly build an action ambulance.

This would be the basis of our project, and we would choose tires and wheels accordingly. At the same time, we also wanted to throw in some type of traction-aiding device into the rear axle.

After a little research, it was figured out that the ambulance was running around with a rear Dana 60, and it would soon fit up to 285/75R16 tire once the 5-inch Action Van kit was added.

When we called up the Eaton Performance and told them about the plan to outfit an ambulance so it can better rescue people, the kind people at Eaton were happy to donate a Detroit Locker for the build.

Likewise, Mickey Thompson Tires was also very generous once they heard about our proposal and how it would help so many loyal customers of theirs who use the Ocotillo Wells recreation area.

We had all the hard parts, and now we had to find a couple shops willing to do a good deed and help out with the build. Full Tilt Off-Road in San Clemente, California was our first stop. They got the entire suspension installed while we waited for some Baja ATZs and a Detroit Locker to show up. Once the suspension was on and the locker, tires, and wheels showed up, we headed down to the Off Road Warehouse in San Diego, California, to mount up the wheels and tires and install the locker.