USA–– OSSIPEE The Altamahaw-Ossipee Fire Department has become the first in the county with its own ATV rescue team.
Team members are training to do everything from assist injured hikers to douse brush fires burning far off roadways. The equipment the department purchased all without using taxpayer dollars includes a variety of medical equipment and a 100-gallon tanker that rides on a trailer (referred to as a skid) pulled by an ATV.
All of this is carried in an enclosed trailer thats a part of the departments heavy rescue operation. When theres an emergency that occurs at a location accessible only by an ATV, the response team can be rolling in minutes.
Ive thought for years there was a need for this, said Billy Andrews, a captain with the A-O Fire Department and the driving force behind the ATV rescue team. We want to make it available to all the departments in the county.
Local law enforcement agencies will also be welcome to use the equipment, he said.
The ATV currently used by the rescue team is on loan from Andrews. He said money has been raised through donations from a variety of local businesses and individuals, as well as through tractor pulls sponsored by the fire department for the department to purchase its own ATV. That will probably happen within six months, he said.
More than $10,000 has been raised for the project.
Theyll be purchasing an ATV similar to the one Andrews has loaned to the department. Its a strapping 680 cc Honda capable of rolling over the most rugged terrain. The ATV will be equipped with a winch. Its uses will be numerous.
Andrews noted the 100 gallons of water the tanker can carry will control most brush fires. Its a lifesaver for firefighters who might otherwise be asked to physically lug water to a remote location. A hundred gallons of water, Wilson noted, weighs more than 800 pounds.
For emergencies involving an injured hiker or similar calamity, the water tank can be quickly removed from the skid, replaced by a stokes basket for victim transport.
Andrews said rescuers who have to carry a victim by foot from a remote site are quickly tired.
The first quarter-mile or so isnt bad, he said. After that, they need more and more breaks.
Andrews said his desire to create an ATV rescue team stems largely from the increasing popularity of hiking trails throughout the county. Shallowford Park on Gerringer Mill Road near Western Alamance High School is one park thats a part of the Alamance County Parks & Recreation system. The park includes a variety of wilderness trails, many a far distance from the road.
Its a big help when you need it, Wilson said of the emergency ATV equipment. The time difference is great.
Kyle Buckner, chief of the Alamance County Rescue Squad, said he wasnt aware the A-O Fire Department had an ATV rescue team, but agreed there were times when such a squad could prove an asset.
Theres always a need to be prepared, Buckner said. Thats a good thing to put together. I hope it works out for them.
Andrews said major donors for the ATV rescue team are: Bulls-Eye Graphics, Burke Trailers, Cone Health, Diesel Engine & Heavy Equipment Repair, First Call Restorations, Glen Raven Logistics, Pro-Pave and Wilson Tire Pros.