“We recognize that she’s funky, she’s 80’s, she’s got qualities to her. We’re not gonna turn this thing into a Sprinter or something that’s got adequate air conditioning. You just deal,” shared 12FPS founder Adam Shaening-Pokrasso as we sat in their Santa Fe office space discussing Betty, their 1985 Chevy Ambulance Van.
Seated around the table in addition to Adam sat Leah Pokrasso (Adam’s wife), 12FPS art director and illustrator; Erin Azouz, producer and social media strategist; and Susy Alfaro, production coordinator. Adam and Leah’s dog, Billy Jean, lay passed out on the couch, exhausted from a long work day. Each member of the 12FPS team took turns sharing what Betty has grown to mean to them as the companies newest mobile member. “She’s basically an ambulance, van, camper, grip truck, photo subject, and inspiration for all of us,” Adam exclaimed.
The story goes that Betty was converted to an ambulance by the military soon after her 1985 birth, though she didn’t find much use while in service. The military ambulance was pulled off the lot and sold to someone in New Jersey, where it later traveled to Colorado without oil in the engine. Needless to say, Betty needed a new engine when Adam purchased the van.
Many of Betty’s peculiarities from her time as an ambulance remain to this day. Though her siren is out of commission, her warning lights still work. Hook-ups for oxygen and a suction unit still line her walls. Strap-downs for the injured sit next to seat belts.
12FPS’s relationship to Betty is unique in that no one lives in the van full time. However, it’s clear in speaking to the team that the goal for Betty is to have her on the road as much as possible. “This isn’t really just intended for the small group that’s here, this is meant as a creative vehicle that should be on the road inspiring others,” Erin told us. The 12FPS team went on to tell us about future plans to send the vehicle out on commissioned road trips for clients, passion projects, and personal adventures. “Betty’s already booked for quite a bit,” Susy shared.
Betty’s maiden voyage including Adam, Leah, their dog Billy Jean, Leah’s brother Tommy, and her cousin Liz traveling from New Mexico to South Dakota for a family reunion. Their trip including stops in West Cliff, Colorado, Wyoming, and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Adam lovingly explains, “It’s kind of like a new friend. At first it felt very foreign, and you do have to sink into it. It doesn’t take long. You’re out for a couple days, a few nights. But before you know it, you’re like, ‘This is home.’”
You can track Betty’s adventures by viewing #bettyventure, following @12_fps, or visiting 12FPS.com. You can also view pictures from Betty’s adventure to South Dakota here.
Listen to the full audio interview below.