DL&V to the rescue
VANDERBILT - It started with an auto accident and has ended with a well-equipped rescue truck and well-trained firefighters.
Several years ago, a firefighter with the DL&V Volunteer Fire Department experienced a severe accident on Route 201. "We had to wait for extrication equipment to get him out of the car," says DL&V Fire Chief Jack Washabaugh of Vanderbilt. "It was the straw that broke the camel's back." John Lowther recovered from his accident and is still a member of the company. But anyone trapped in a vehicle, trench, or other location, will no longer have to wait for another fire department's extraction equipment.
DL&V purchased a Holmatro spreader for cutting victims from vehicles and air bags to raise overturned vehicles shortly after Lowther's accident. But that and other rescue equipment rode in the department's mini-pumper until three months ago.
Now, the department has a fully-equipped rescue truck.
Combining a 1991 International truck cab and chassis from Smouse with the backend of a 1976 Ford, the department created Rescue 10. The truck cost $31,000 and thousands of manhours; equipment cost more than $15,000.
"I bet there were more than 3,000 manhours put in that truck. We'd be here at 4 o'clock in the morning. Ed Rowan, a Dawson firefighter, did the mechanical work," says Safety Captain Kevin Logan of Vanderbilt.
"Everybody had a little knowledge about how to customize the truck," says Washabaugh. "Randy Richter of Nelson Bus Lines provided exhaust pipe."
The truck has virtually everything needed to perform any rescue, including: Holmatro spreaders and cutters for getting into vehicles, an air chisel and Saws-All for cutting metal, 80-ton air bags for lifting vehicles, a floating backboard that will hold 270 pounds, an automatic external defibrillator donated by Fayette County, jacks, chocks, a ram, a 100-ton Portapower manual hydraulic jack, ropes, shovels and a broom.
The cab holds six and firefighters can warm up in the back during cold weather.
Washabaugh estimates 90 percent of the department's calls involves rescue, mostly from vehicles.
The firefighters are well-trained for a variety of rescues: rope, confined space, basic and advanced vehicle, agricultural, aircraft and trench. Two members will soon learn to scuba dive, for water rescues.
"We just completed a Department of Health vehicle extrication course," says 1st Lt. Adam Winterhalter of Vanderbilt. "The course was 48 hours and 20 guys got certified. We used our rescue equipment and South Connellsville's."
"We also have EMTs and a couple of paramedics," adds Logan.
The truck is a valuable addition to the five-vehicle department. "We're happy with it," says Washabaugh. "It does more than the job we expected it to do. It's a great addition to our fleet. I want to thank all the people who support us through hoagie sales and bingo."
"People will see where their money is going," says Logan of the truck and its equipment. "We'll show you what we've got, anybody can come down for a look."
DL&V will extinguish car fires in a demonstration at 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Dawson Grange #419 Community Fair.
The department will hold a gun bash from 12 to 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at the fire hall and members will go door-to-door in the next few weeks for the annual fund drive.