Lucky Rescue #7 gives patients, medics smoother ride
By Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — Whenever there is a medical emergency or injury, a first responder has a single-minded focus on the patient.
Meanwhile, who is looking out for the medic on call?
Maybe the question should be: What is looking out for the medic on call?
The last addition to the fleet of the Naples Fire and Rescue Department (NFRD) was designed with “the medic-in-mind configuration.”
That means there are safety belts in the seat closest to the ambulance stretcher and everything is bolted down within arms’ reach, according to NFRD Deputy Chief Mark Scribner.
The liquid spring suspension results in a smoother ride for the patient being transported to the hospital as well as the rescue personnel on duty, he said.
“The suspension uses a hydraulic system instead of air. You can hear it constantly adjusting” to keep the inside of the rig level and balanced, he said.
Most ambulances have a tendency to sway from side to side when in motion. Scribner understands the importance of the eliminating a bumpy ride from the equation during emergency situations.
Also, the ambulance is equipped with four-wheel drive, which is a big plus for rural Maine, especially when the rescue unit is dispatched before roads are plowed. The four-wheel drive is an advantage during mud season, too.
“It’s the first ambulance I’ve ever driven that had four-wheel drive,” Scribner said.
“This rescue unit has a 16-year lifespan,” Scribner said. “Remember we were replacing a 1997 ambulance.”
The ambulance, also referred to as a rescue unit, was custom-built for the Town of Naples and made its debut in December.
In late January, Chief Scribner spoke to the Naples Board of Selectmen, providing an update on the new ambulance.
First, Scribner thanked the board and the Naples Budget Committee for putting this item on the budget.
He said it had very few warranty items that needed to be fixed.
“There is some paint work that wasn’t done right. We are lucky enough to use East Coast Repairs,” he said.
Two of the department ambulances ended up with new sneakers — studded tires.
“We have always had some problems in the winter months. We’ve just been doing chains or Onspot tire chains,” he said.
Onspots throw the chains in front of the tires; the driver pushes a button on the dashboard to activitate or release tire chains.
Recently, the department looked into studded tires, he said.
“The price was comparable. We decided to go with studs. It took a little time to find a place that had studded tires for 19½-inch” rims, Scribner said.
The studded tires will allow the department to get a longer life out of the “summer” tires.
The other rescue truck was acquired by the department in 2008. Some work was done on it to increase its lifespan.
Most of the “damage” is surface, around the wheel wells. We are well below what was budgeted.
“Our hope is to keep these for a 16 year rotation,” Scribner said.
The 1997 ambulance will be put up for sale through the bid process.
Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak, who is also a NFRD volunteer, said he drove the rescue unit briefly as part of the department protocol that requires all members to sign off on a test drive.
He commented on the smoothness of the ride.
“It is a night and day difference. It is very nice compared to the 2008,” Paraschak said. “It’s amazing how technology has improved in 10 years.”
“With the four wheel drive, we are not getting stuck as much,” he said.
The funding for the purchase of the rescue unit was approved last summer after Town Meeting. The new rescue vehicle cost about $220,000, Paraschak said.
But, it is worth its weight in gold.
“They are the most used vehicles within the fire and rescue department,” he said. “They routinely save people’s lives.”