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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Clay County's ambulances put to new use as support vehicles

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ivy Herron photo

Van Buren Volunteer Fire Dept. personnel surround a repainted ambulance donated by the county for non-transportation support. Pictured in the front row are Bev McVey, Kelly Bussing, Doug Sturgeon (holding daughter Amber), Kelli Sturgeon (holding son Evan), Don Batchelor and 2nd Lt. Tod Haring. In the back row is Brian Eder, Eddie Hastings, Assistant Fire Chief Todd McVey, Fire Chief Pete Taylor, Tim Williams and Lt. Steve Downing.

Building firehouse

The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department needs a bigger fire house to store equipment, including their new basic life support (BLS) non-transport rescue truck -- Rescue Six.

The department will have a Jonah Fish Fry at 4 p.m., on Sept. 16 at the Carbon firehouse to raise money for the building project.



Where does a volunteer fire department with limited funding get a basic life support (BLS) non-transport rescue truck? The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department drew theirs out of a hat.

When the county commissioners decided to dispose of three ambulances owned by the county-- a 1997, a 2000 and a 2001 model -- they couldn't just give the units away to anyone. The vehicles couldn't be used as transport ambulances. Clay County purchased the ambulances when Athens provided ambulance service in the county.

With local volunteer fire departments providing medical back-up assistance to Trans-Care personnel and assisting in emergency rescue and extrication of victims at accident scenes in the county -- the commissioners decided a lottery among interested volunteer fire departments was a fair way to give the vehicles to organizations who can use the ambulances for parts, for life support until an ambulance arrives on the scene or purposes other than transportation.

The names of the fire departments interested in having one of the ambulances literally went into a hat and Poland, Jackson and Van Buren won.

The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department needed one of the former ambulances because of their increase in emergency runs, according to Fire Chief Pete Taylor.

"We more than quadrupled our emergency runs the first year after qualifying," he said.

In 2004, the department answered 58 total emergency runs. In 2005, after qualifying to provide basic life support (non-transport) assistance in late 2004, the department responded to 278 total emergency runs and have projected at least 350 for this year.

Taylor has seen many changes during his 41 years on the department.

"To raise money (over the years), our department, which consists of 17 motivated firefighters, have had fish frys, breakfasts and applied for grant money to purchase new equipment," Taylor said. "Now we are in the process of building a new firehouse because of our growth. We now have two fire trucks in Carbon and four, including the new Rescue Six unit, in Harmony."

It was important to the members of the department that the work done to the former ambulance be done by local businesses.

Country Car Care, of Brazil, made sure the vehicle would be capable of making emergency runs; Ski's Body Shop, of Parke County, did the paint and body work on the vehicle; while Excel Graphics, of Harmony, placed the decals on the outside of the unit. PDF Inc., at 10102 N. Murphy Ave., designed and built new tool holders inside the vehicle.

The department outfitted the new unit, christened "Rescue Six," with a new set of cutting equipment, "Jaws of Life" equipment and a generator that will be used for auto extrication. New medical equipment, including complete trauma kits, oxygen, c-collars, backboards, and an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), was also added.

Ten minutes after it became available for service, "Rescue Six" went to the aid of a 15-month-old child, according to Assistant Fire Chief Todd McVey.

"We used to just fight fires. Times have changed for volunteer departments over the past few years," he said. "Now we are asked to fight fires, do auto extrication, go on all medical runs that require an ambulance, provide storm damage cleanup, traffic control, and community services such as pumping out flooded basements, providing fire and medical protection at events such as go-cart races or looking for lost or missing persons in Van Buren Township."

Night or day, Van Buren Township volunteers are prepared to provide these services, and many more, to their community.

"We want to thank each and every person and business that helped us with our new rescue truck," McVey said. "The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department is ready for whatever emergency awaits our community and surrounding communities that need our assistance. And now we're better equipped, to do that job."

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