Ready for wild rescues
St. Charles County Ambulance District adds UTV to fleet to help access patients in off-road areas
By Brett Auten
Nature is glorious and profound. But it can also be treacherous and life-threateningly dangerous.
In those later cases, the St. Charles County Ambulance District is trained and ready to handle the situation.
When emergencies, accidents or illnesses occur where there are no paved pathways or people within miles, SCCAD paramedics are now better equipped to respond thanks to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The group recently awarded SCCAD a grant for a utility terrain vehicle (or UTV), which will be used to reach patients who suffer medical emergencies in areas difficult to access with traditional ambulances.
“Since April alone, we’ve been sent out nine times to various calls,” Kyle Gaines, Director of Community Relations, said. “Over the years there has been quite a variety (of calls). There have been some rough bicycle wrecks because there are some spots on the Katy Trail that drop off pretty quick. Or it has been that someone gets stung by as wasp or a bee and don’t have their EpiPen. Or it could be heat exhaustion or stroke. Just a little bit of everything.”
The new UTV is decked out to hold a stretcher and other lifesaving medical equipment used on emergency calls. The UTV will be the second in the fleet. Having the additional UTV will enable the district to position units at multiple stations along the trail network.
Battalion Chief Brian Schnelle, who is not only stationed at the district’s south zone – where most of the trail calls occur – was also involved in the planning and procurement of the UTV that is was donated.
“This will help us get to the patients that we generally have a hard time getting to,” he said. “There are a lot of areas in the county that we can’t get a conventional vehicle to.”
Schnelle has been front and center on many dire calls.
“Just last year we had a man fall off a steep embankment and broke his hip,” Schnelle said. “It took about an hour-and-a-half just to find him. And when you are in a situation like that you have to take a lot of equipment with you. You’re so far out you can’t just walk back to your truck to get something.”
In total, the equipment is valued at nearly $25,000. The UTV was officially presented to the district last week at the Firehouse Subs restaurant in St. Charles.
“Between the Katy Trail, Great Rivers Greenway and an expansive network of paths located within numerous St. Charles County Parks, there are many miles of off-road areas within our community where medical emergencies occur with some regularity,” said SCCAD Chief Taz Meyer, SCCAD Chief, said. “These areas are being used with increasing frequency by runners, bicyclists and others, and the equipment donated by Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation will undoubtedly result in reduced response times to medical emergencies.”
In addition to emergency calls in hard-to-access areas, UTVs are also utilized by Paramedics with large-scale events such as the County Fair and O’Fallon Heritage & Freedom Fest.
“It feels great to be able to give back to those who put their lives on the line every day to protect us,” said Larry Webb of the Firehouse Subs Franchisee.
In 2005, the Firehouse Subs founders established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation with the mission of providing funding, life-saving equipment, and educational opportunities to first-responders and public safety organizations. Through the nonprofit, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has granted more than $25 million to hometown heroes in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, including more than $778,000 in Missouri.
“Firehouse Subs has a long-standing commitment to giving back to the community that it has stores are in,” Gaines said. “This was on our wish list.”
Kyle Gaines of the St. Charles County Ambulance District offers these tips when you are planning to head into the many miles of forest and wilderness that surrounds the county
n Plug it in. Take the extra time to make sure you have a fully-charged cell phone with an emergency battery charger just in case.
n Drink it up. Make sure you have plenty of water. Dehydration is one of the more typical calls the district receives.
n Tell a friend. Riding and exploring with a buddy is always more fun, but if you choose to go at it alone, make sure you tell a friend or a loved one an estimated time on when you will return.
CUTLINE: Photos by Ray Rockwell
Cover-Wild1 Presentation of the new UTV from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to St. Charles County Ambulance District took place at Firehouse Subs at 1365 Bass Pro Drive in St. Charles on July 13. Among those in attendance were (standing at the left of the vehicle) Michael Domico, Area Representative with Firehouse Subs and cutting the ribbon were (left) David A. Lewis Assistant Chief St Charles County Area Ambulance District and (right) Larry Webb Firehouse Subs franchise owner.
Cover-Wild2 The new UTV will help SCCAD paramedics respond when emergencies, accidents or illnesses occur where there are no paved pathways or people within miles.