By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer
The MeRV – or Medical Resource Vehicle – has driven nearly 60,000 miles annually since early 2010, traveling to truck stops, truck shows and trucking companies to educate and answer medical questions for a population that is often discouraged from honest medical treatment.
It appears the MeRV’s time is up.
Safety First Sleep Solutions, an Ohio company specializing in sleep apnea, let veteran trucker and OOIDA Life Member Jon Osburn go Wednesday, Sept. 7. The company has parked the MeRV, permanently this time.
The company issued a brief statement Thursday from COO Robin Ivany confirming that the MeRV was being shut down.
“Safety First Sleep Solutions regrets to announce the dismissal of the Medical Education Resource Vehicle program,” the statement reads. “It has been quite apparent for some time now that this program has been in fiscal decline. We believe it is a worthwhile and needed endeavor; however, the financial strain, a result of the lack of corporate partnerships, on Safety First Sleep Solutions could not continue without consequences.
“Safety First Sleep Solutions will go on serving the needs of the trucking world, occupational health and safety industries, and the general public.”
The MeRV was originally the brainchild of Osburn, Dr. John McElligott and Sirius XM radio personality Dave Nemo, a co-founder of the St. Christopher Trucker Development and Relief Fund. They needed funding and Boardman Medical Supply stepped up.
Safety First Sleep Solutions is owned by Boardman Medical Supply. In April, Boardman pulled the plug on the MeRV, but relaunched the vehicle. Its new emphasis remained more on education and resources, and less on the St. Christopher Fund.
Osburn, who had scheduled time off in September to attend his daughter’s wedding, said he understood why the company pulled the plug. Monthly fuel costs were totaling $2,500 to $3,500, and annual maintenance was around $10,000.
Osburn said he was told at the recent truck show in Dallas that the MeRV wasn’t “making its numbers.”
“I think everybody really tried,” Osburn said. “I don’t know what the major culprit was. How do you get the corporate world to partner up and do this? I just want to thank everybody that helped us.”
Osburn, who sold his truck and trailer two years ago before he took the MeRV’s reins, said he had nothing bad to say about Boardman Medical Supply or Safety First Sleep Solutions. He said one of the problems was the company wasn’t able to sell its products or services through the MeRV because Osburn couldn’t write prescriptions.
He hopes the MeRV’s mission of helping a largely underserved trucking population is carried on in some form. Osburn even said he offered to buy the vehicle, but didn’t get a response from the company.
Osburn, a medic who served in the Vietnam War and who worked as an EMT, spent much of his MeRV workdays answering questions that truckers were often afraid to ask their own physicians for fear of hurting their careers.
“I really, truly believe this is needed,” Osburn said. “They need a place where they can go in and not be threatened by the ‘establishment.’ They could ask questions. It’s all confidential and the MeRV was their truck, with me being a technician and Dr. John McElligott being a huge resource.”
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