Rescue Truck Is Product Of Two Years of Planning
Thorough planning and an apparatus builder located near our community proved to be of the utmost value during the construction of the Hershey Volunteer Fire Department’s new rescue unit.
Rapid population growth and expansion of several local business interests in our area have caused a substantial increase in both Fire and rescue calls. This increase clearly necessitated replacement of a 15-year-old rescue truck. From the start, it was felt by the committee that a heavy-duty unit would be needed to fulfill our needs. It also soon became obvious that careful preparation in the design of the truck would be necessary.
Over two years of painstaking research and design went into the development of apparatus specifications. Several trips to inspect rescue units already in service provided a wealth of ideas.
Proximity of builder
After considerable discussion, it was felt that the company selected to build the apparatus should be located close to our community. The value of this decision was to prove itself numerous times during the annual construction of the truck. In addition, the committee sought additional technical assistance in the actual truck specifications from representatives of the Glenn D. Culbert Co. in College Park, Md. Here again, the willingness of the committee to seek outside help and guidance was to prove invaluable.
Fortunately there are several builders of rescue bodies in our area. This provided options to the committee that still made it possible to keep the construction of the truck nearby. After careful consideration, the contract for the rescue body was awarded to the Swab Wagon Co. of Elizabethville, Pa. A Ford L-9000 diesel chassis was selected by the committee as the most practical for our needs. This was ordered from a local dealer and then driven to the Swab factory by members of our department.
While awaiting delivery of the chassis, the committee continued to plan space for every item to be carried on the truck. Compartmentation for every conceivable item was meticulously thought out. This thorough and often frustrating planning was to prove its worth when it came time to put the unit in service.
Special compartments were designed for such large items as the cascade system, spare air bottles, portable generator, and the large 12-kw lighting plant. Small items were not overlooked and areas were set aside for tools, first-aid supplies and electrical adapters. Such careful planning can still overlook or misjudge space requirements. This is why the ability to watch the construction of a truck and make necessary changes can be of great importance.
During the four months of actual construction, our committee made the 100-mile around trip to Elizabethville almost every other week. Countless phone calls between Swab officials and our committee chairman confirmed changes and provided an opportunity to discuss further alterations. In all, a total of 35 changes from the original specifications were incorporated into the final unit. Some were minor, such as the style and size of warning lights, and other were of major importance, such as six additional air cylinders.
By delivery time in early April of this year, we were able to accept a truck that was best suited to the needs of our department. The importance of months of careful planning of compartments was now evident. All equipment was quickly removed from the old unit and properly placed in the designed area of the new rescue truck.
Four basic functions
This new apparatus serves four basic functions—rescue, air, lighting and salvage. Since our department operates two ambulances, we do not expect the rescue unit to transport patients. Rather, it is to serve as a command post—a triage center at any major emergency. Departmental policy of dispatching an engine with the rescue on any call allowed us to conserve compartment space by not including booster equipment on the new apparatus. The rescue truck responds alone only on mutual aid calls to other departments.
Major rescue equipment carried on the unit includes a Hurst tool, pneumatic cutting tool, hydraulic rescue kit, hydraulic jacks, and several types of saws. Other necessary gear is also carried, including rope, pompier belts, basket stretcher, hot stick, gas detector and numerous hand tools.
For medical service, piped oxygen is supplied to four outlets around the truck. A resuscitator is also carried along with blankets, splints, and abundant first-aid supplies.
Lighting facilities are provided by a 12-kw diesel generator and a portable 2.5-kw generator. There are eight 500-watt floodlights permanently mounted on the body of the unit. Five 500-watt portable floodlights are also carried along with four mounted wire reels and one portable reel. Electrical outlets are provided around the truck, including the roof area, which is entirely diamonette.
The apparatus also has a five-bottle air cascade system, six self-contained breathing apparatus and 18 spare cylinders. Salvage gear includes a large water vacuum, exhaust fans, salvage covers and a portable pump.
Obviously, all this equipment is of benefit only if the department personnel are well-trained. Training for our new rescue truck actually began months before actual delivery. As new equipment for the truck arrived, it was put into service on the old unit. Training on this new equipment began immediately and is constantly being reviewed and updated.
Drills are held once a week throughout the year and additional drills on specific equipment are often held. Our department members also attend a fire school at least once a year. Several members have taken extra training through college courses, schools and special seminars. All members of the department have basic first-aid training and several have completed the state EMT course.
Truck proves value
Within weeks of the delivery of our new rescue truck this training and overall value of (he apparatus itself were tested. A serious ammonia leak at the Hershey Foods Corporation forced the evacuation of the entire plant. Forty workers were overcome by the escaping gas.
Members of our department and plant fire fighters carried out extensive search and rescue activities. More than 20 persons were located and led to safety. Throughout the search of the 54acre complex, air masks were needed by all personnel. Numerous air bottles were quickly refilled by the truck’s cascade system.
A more serious tragedy might have occurred had it not been for the availability of this equipment and training of our denartment personnel.