By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — First responders in Newkirk work tirelessly to keep area people safe, whether that be through putting out fires or transporting patients to the hospital through the ambulance service. Serving a territory roughly 400 square miles in size, that has at times been difficult with only two ambulances. Those first responders are now better equipped to help the public thanks to the acquisition of a new ambulance, which arrived at the fire station last week.
The new ambulance brings NFD’s total to three vehicles, offering them extra ease should another ambulance already be out on a service call.
The ambulance is a 2020 Ford transit ambulance, made by Wheeled Coach, of Orlando, Fla. and sold by Chief Fire and Safety of Chickasha, Okla.
NFD has been in need of an extra ambulance due to the large area they serve, as well as mutual assist calls with other area fire departments like Kildare and Blackwell.
“There are increased calls, so we need a more reliable vehicle. This one is gas instead of diesel, so it’ll save (money) on fuel,” said Fire chief Adam Longcrier. “We serve a large area, so we have plans to hopefully start taking patients to different areas now that we have three ambulances.”
The NFD petitioned the city of Newkirk about the need of a new ambulance, and the city applied for and received a grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) worth about $99,000. The ambulance cost about $131,000, and the city of Newkirk contributed the remaining funds.
The NFD’s other two ambulances are a typical box-type vehicle, but the new vehicle is a van style ambulance, which the NFD hasn’t had since about 2001, he said.
That doesn’t take away from the functionality of the vehicle, however, as all equipment still fts in the vehicle, and it also can be stored inside the fire station.
“All of our machines, we installed in here. There is not much of a difference at all, except for the look, and width of the vehicle,” Longcrier said.
The new ambulance will also help out with maintenance and mechanical issues., as well.
“We do have maintenance problems, so when one goes into the shop, we’ll still have two ambulances here,” Longcrier said.
One important feature of the vehicle is a power loader, which automatically loads patients into the vehicle, decreasing injuries on paramedics.
“The system involves a cot and completely loads for us, and so it’ll reduce back injuries,” he said.
The NFD is happy with the new ambulance, and sees it as an asset to help the community in a time of need.
“I’d like to thank the city of Newkirk, the city manager and the commission for understanding our need, and the OSDH for awarding the grant so we were able to purchase this,” he said. “This is definitely going to help the citizens of Newkirk, and in the rural areas, as well.”