STRATFORD - The Stratford Emergency Medical Service received a brand new ambulance for Christmas this year.

The new van-style ambulance is the healthiest addition to the pack.  

Officials say it is important for their ambulance fleet to stay up to date so that EMS can ensure a safe transport to the hospital for both patients and paramedics.

The Stratford EMS says it responded to about 7,000 calls this past year.

The number is up about 500 from the previous year.  EMS Director Michal Loiz says they need to make sure their staff, training and equipment is up to par.

"We have been working toward a vehicle replacement program to keep our fleet healthy," says Loiz.

Loiz says the Stratford EMS recently revamped three ambulances, but this one, he says, is brand new and has a few new safety features.

Loiz is hoping to add two more of these ambulances to his fleet.

"All of these things that we're trying to do are to maintain and ensure residents are getting the best service that they deserve," says Loiz.

Loiz says the money EMS receives from billing insurance companies has paid for the new ambulance. He expects it to be in service by the end of next month.