New OMFD rescue truck hits the road

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BURRILLVILLE – The Oakland Mapleville Fire Department put a new vehicle on the road this week, a 2018 advanced life support Dodge rescue truck, equipped with both the latest features and the newest medical equipment.

The new addition to the district’s emergency fleet was purchased from New England Fire Equipment and Apparatus in New Haven, Conn. for $267,000. The truck was used as a demonstration model for the business and has just 1,000 miles, which allowed the department to buy it at a discounted price.

“We probably saved $30,000 to $50,000 off the price of having one built,” said Chief Joseph Bertholic.

The savings are important when it comes to OMFD’s rescue vehicles. The team in Oakland Mapleville is a paramedic unit, a title with the Rhode Island Department of Health that comes with additional standards for the vehicles and as a result, more up front costs.

The district upgraded older trucks to fit the standard around two years ago. The designation, Bertholic noted, is not very common in Rhode Island and requires extra education and training for personnel.  As a result, OMFD has paramedic on duty around 50 percent of the time – which can be an important factor in treating seriously ill patients.

“If they need us they can tone out for us and one of us can cover,” Lt. and EMS Coordinator Colin Fenner, one of two paramedics on staff.

Fenner noted that paramedic units are authorized to use certain medical devices, and have more ability to work to saves lives without having to reach a doctor approval. The neighboring Pascoag Fire District also carries the higher-level license.

“It’s really advanced stuff we do in terms of both medicines and procedures,” said Fenner. “It saves a lot of time.”

Staff in Oakland Mapleville also set up the new truck in house, arming it with equipment and supplies to create additional cost savings.

“We saved a lot of money by doing the small stuff ourselves,” Bertholic said.

The district recently approved an agreement to provide ongoing emergency services in the neighboring district of Nasonville, where residents voted to eliminate paid EMT and firefighting staff in 2018.

Lt. & EMS Coordinator Colin Fenner, left, and Chief Joseph Bertholic stand with the new rescue truck.

But Bertholic noted that his district’s recent purchase is more a matter of routine maintenance and upkeep than planning for added calls for service.

“Every five or six years we try to replace the backup,” he said of OMFD’s rescue trucks.

The district’s last new rescue truck was purchased in 2012. The chief traded in a 2006 model  when he purchased the latest acquisition.

“This is the truck that gets used the most,” he said of the new 2018.

The truck is equipped with all the latest bells and whistles like self leveling, and an automatic hydraulic system that load patients, limiting the workload for EMTs. It also has a higher weight limit than the older model trucks.

“We can carry the biggest people out there at this point,” said Fenner.

“We’re getting busier and busier,” Fenner added. “We’re very happy with this thing.”

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