Kings help Detroit buy rescue vehicle

Posted Jan. 21, 2010, at 8:56 p.m.

DETROIT, Maine — The Fire Department has secured a new first-responder rescue vehicle without spending a nickel of town money.

“It didn’t cost the taxpayers anything,” said Fire Department Capt. Claude Thornton. “They ought to be glad to hear that.”

A $25,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and additional fundraising by firefighters were enough to purchase a 2005 GMC Yukon from Barney’s Chevrolet in Pittsfield and have it equipped and painted. The new truck went into service at the beginning of January and as of Thursday afternoon, it had been on eight rescue calls in Detroit and surrounding towns, said Thornton.

If that pace continues, said Thornton, the department would be on track to eclipse last year’s total of about 180 rescue calls.

The vehicle is not used to transport patients as an ambulance would; that task is left to surrounding ambulance services. But it is equipped with lifesaving devices that can be used until an ambulance arrives. The Detroit Fire Department has 10 emergency medical technicians, in addition to some firefighters, certified to drive the vehicle.

The town previously used a 1988 Ford ambulance for first-responder services. That rig was donated to the Lincoln Fire Company, a fundraising and community service arm of the Lincoln Fire Department. No one from that organization was available for comment.

In addition to being more efficient to run, the newer truck expands the department’s capabilities. For one thing, the fact it is four-wheel-drive will allow it to go places the former vehicle couldn’t.

“It’s just a safer vehicle,” said Thornton.

Thornton thanked the local businesses that helped outfit the vehicle, but saved the bulk of his gratitude for the Kings.

“The vehicle has got an emblem on the back in thanks to the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation,” said Thornton. “They’ve been extraordinarily generous.”

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