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Editors’ Expressions: Admit It, You Want One

"Editors' Expressions" is a recurring feature in which the EMS World editorial staff ruminates on current news, noteworthy events and everyday happenings with relevance to healthcare and EMS delivery. Feel free to react in the comment box below or e-mail

When I was a kid, the airing of the Hess Toy Truck commercial was as much a harbinger of the coming holiday season as were the sounds of carols in the department stores and the sight of trees tied to cars on the highway. The opening notes of the commercial’s catchy tune got me thinking of time off from school, opening presents and spending time with family.

We’re a Hess Toy Truck household.  My two boys started receiving them as gifts before they were big enough to even push them around on the floor. The collectible vehicles (different models each year) are fun and interactive enough to hold the attention of small children and durable enough to hold up to years of rough play.

This year, Hess is adding its first-ever ambulance to its 57-year-old line of toy vehicles. With 70 total lights including super-bright LED headlights, 4 cab-mounted buttons to activate different lights-and-siren patterns, chrome accents, a button-activated back door-ramp release and more, the ambulance also comes with a separate rescue truck with 26 additional lights and a pull-back motor mechanism that allows racing in flat or wheelie positions.

While it would be tempting for the folks at Hess Toy Truck to claim that the launch of the new ambulance was planned to honor the brave first responders caring for patients during the COVID pandemic, it was more a case of a fortunate coincidence. Truth is, as General Manager Justin Mayer told me in a phone conversation last week, the annual truck concepts are discussed and finalized years in advance.

Mayer likens his job to that of Santa’s elves—toiling away in a workshop all year to make toys for the world’s children at holiday time. Hess has built police, fire, rescue and emergency vehicles in prior years, but this is the company’s first bona-fide ambulance. “We wanted to do it right,” Mayer says. The challenge for this model was to capture the look and feel of an ambulance while staying true to the traditional Hess Toy Truck body style, which has been around since 1964 and is revered by collectors worldwide.

Priced at $36.99 and offered exclusively online at, the ambulance is complemented by a free download of the 5th edition of a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum guide designed by Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Education Outreach. The guide provides seven STEM lessons featuring the 2020 Hess Ambulance and Rescue as a learning tool.

Hess is inviting fans across the country to honor the heroes in their lives by sharing a picture, video, and/or story using the hashtag #ThankYouFirstResponders and tagging @hesstoytruck.

It’s impossible to calculate how childhood impressions—a toy ambulance, a lifesaving interaction with an EMS provider, a school visit, a groundbreaking television program—can ignite a lifelong passion to serve one’s community as a first responder. They should not be taken lightly.

With ambulance design in mind, EMS World is announcing the launch of our Best Ambulance Design Contest, in which we ask you to share a photo of your ambulance (or other EMS vehicle) on our Facebook page or e-mail it to We’re on the lookout for the most dramatic, modern, engaging, colorful, exciting and visually creative ambulances on the street today.

The contest will run through the end of the year and a reader vote will determine the winner. The winning agency will be profiled in an upcoming issue of EMS World and on our website. Watch for more details on our Facebook page this week.

The fine folks at Hess Toy Truck were kind enough to donate a 2020 Hess Toy Truck Ambulance to the winning agency. We thank them for their generosity and for their support of EMS responders.

“Our hope with this ambulance is to cheer loudly for the healthcare heroes in the EMS community,” Mayer says. “We want to do our part to say thanks to all those who selflessly serve on the front lines.”

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