By Lynne Phillips
Ruggles Troy Volunteer Fire Department has added a new Yamaha Viking Utility Vehicle to its arsenal of fire fighting and rescue equipment courtesy of Firelands Ambulance Service (FAS).The three passenger, four wheel drive vehicle will be used for off road rescue, according to FAS board member Dean White. "It will get firefighters into areas that are not accessible with the trucks. "It can transport three people in the passenger compartment," he pointed out, "but for firefighters in full gear, it will probably only hold two. In the rear, he said, a Stokes basket will be added. The Stokes basket, also known as the Stokes stretcher or Stokes litter was originally designed by Rear Admiral Charles Francis Stokes, Retired Surgeon General of the Navy 1910-1924. During the United States Civil War, horse mounted litters were used to transport wounded soldiers from the battlefields. The Stokes basket is designed to be used where there are obstacles to movement or other hazards such as confined spaces, on slopes or in wooded terrain. Typically, the basket is shaped to accommodate an adult in a face up position and used in search and rescue. The person is strapped into the basket, making a safe evacuation possible. The person is generally protected by a backboard and a cervical collar to prevent further injury. Baskets are typically constructed of metal wire or plastic. "The UTV can also be used with the fire department'sgrass buggy to transport Indian Packs and personnel to grass fires," White commented. Indian packs are a low-pressure fire suppression system for use in grass fires and wooded areas to knock down hot spots, according to White. The packs hold five to six gallons of water, weigh approximately 40 pounds apiece and are used as backpacks. Ruggles Troy Fire Department leases the vehicle at a cost of $1 per year from FAS, said Dan Bailey FAS Coordinator. "It is another way of giving back to our communities," he said. White said Ruggles Troy has a mutual aid agreement with New London's FAS and the fire department. FAS has provided numerous pieces of equipment to the department including a complete rescue tool system (Jaws of Life), Res-Q-Jack (to lift and stabilize vehicles for extrication), a thermal imager and an upgrade kit for the Jaws of Life, according to Bailey, under similar lease terms.