Paramedics Disapprove of Converted Ambulance

Questions raised about owner's intentions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Paramedics are raising questions about a boxy vehicle with the word "ambulance" on the front and lights on top -- but isn't a real ambulance. (Published Friday, May 11, 2012)

    Paramedics at Fort Worth's ambulance service Medstar are raising questions about a boxy vehicle driving on city streets with the word "ambulance" on the front and red and blue lights on top -- but isn't a real ambulance.

    "Just like anybody when they see it for the first time, it looks like a legitimate ambulance," said Medstar spokesman Matt Zavadsky.

    People involved in an accident or in a medical emergency might wonder why the truck doesn't stop to help, he said.

    A closer look reveals the sign on the door actually says "Slambulance" -- not ambulance. On the back, it says "DFW Cougar and Kitten Rescue." Inside, through dark windows, you can see leather furniture and a metal pole -- not like you'd find in any real ambulance.

    "There is no reason to have a pole mounted here in the center of the vehicle because you can't even get a stretcher in or out," Zavadsky said. "We've got 1,800 EMS professionals in this community, and that type of a vehicle is just a slam on their profession."

    A public database shows the truck was registered just last month to Fort Worth chiropractor Joe Ysbrand at the address of the medical clinic on Camp Bowie where he works.

    "It's a limo," he said in a telephone interview.

    Asked what it's used for, he said, "There's a couple doctors who use it. We don't rent it... We just take friends and family out, that's about it."

    Later, an attorney who claimed to work for the owner of the vehicle called NBC 5 to say Ysbrand doesn't actually own it -- even if that's what the registration shows.

    The attorney, Fletcher Johnson, said, "It was inadvertent. They filled out the paperwork incorrectly."

    Johnson wouldn't identify who does own the truck and added that it's not intended to look like a real ambulance.

    The owners plan to use it for corporate and sporting events and even children's parties, he said.

    Medstar just wants the owners to change the way it looks.

    "If the gentleman who owns the vehicle is saying it's a limousine, then fine, make it a limousine," Zavadsky said. "Paint it black. Take the red lights and the blue lights off, take the word 'ambulance' off of it, take the stars of life off of it and make it a limo, that's fine."

    NBC 5 found the old ambulance parked outside a downtown Fort Worth condo where Ysbrand's driver's license shows he lives.

    Fort Worth police Officer Sharron Neal said having a red-and-blue light bar on a vehicle is legal as long as it's not turned on.