A new all-terrain vehicle for the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department will help improve the search and rescue capabilities of fire departments throughout Genesee County, EPFD Chief Don Newton said yesterday.
"This a new tool, another tool, we have available," Newton said. "I think it's a great addition for the fire services."
The only other similar vehicle available for search and rescue operations is with the Alexander Volunteer Fire Department.
Jan Schafer, owner of Buck's Motorsports in Akron helped arrange for the vehicle for EPFD as part of a manufacture's program that allows the department to get free use of the four-wheeler for a year with an option to buy it at 20-percent below dealer costs at the end of the year.
All members of the EPFD will be trained in the operations of the new vehicle, which can be used not only to rescue hunters or snowmobilers, but to help fight small brush fires.
"We need the volunteer firefighters who support our snowmobilers, our ATVers, our hunters, and at events and parades to be well equipped," said Schafer, who is an East Pembroke resident. "I think it’s extremely important that they have some vehicles like this."
There's been an increasing need in the county, Newton said, for increased search and rescue capabilities.
"In our area, Genesee County, we've been getting over the years more and more calls for lost hunters, hurt hunters in the woods, more snowmobile accidents, four-wheeler accidents and ATV accidents," Newton said.
The new vehicle will make it easier and safer for firefighters and EMS personnel to get to a person in need of rescue and more safely get the patients to ambulances or Mercy Flight helicopters, which often must land far from a rescue scene because they're in wooded areas.
Newton said the vehicle not only serves the practical purposes of search and rescue but will also be a good fundraising and recruitment tool. The department can put it on display and show people what their financial support helps bring to the community and greater search and rescue capabilities will help bring in new volunteers interested in that kind of work.