TYLER MOUNTAIN, W.Va. — Firefighter Lt. James Hill remembers the time a few years ago, when a dump truck overturned on a remote pipeline road in Cross Lanes, pinning its driver underneath the truck.
“It was two-and-a-half miles into the woods,” said Hill, a member of the Tyler Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.
The driver’s companion on the truck reported the incident by calling 911 on his cell phone. Rescuers tried landing a HealthNet helicopter at the accident scene, but there was not enough open space.
EMTs from the Tyler Mountain department finally reached the scene on a pickup truck. But transporting the injured driver in the back of the pickup was not ideal, given the rugged terrain, Hill said.
Bouncing around in the bed of a pickup could exacerbate existing injuries.
“In the bed of a pickup truck, you’re going over a lot of bumps,” he said.
Now, however, the TMVFD has added a new tool that will aid its relatively new All Terrain Vehicle Rescue Team in carrying injured people out of remote areas safely.
Last month the department took delivery of an ATV rescue trailer made by Kentucky-based All Terrain Rescue.
The $5,000 trailer was paid for with donations from local businesses and from residents served by the fire department.
The 13-member ATV Rescue Team has already conducted some training exercises with the trailer, Hill said.
With the trailer, pulled by an ATV, “we can haul medical equipment and also haul an EMT into rough terrain. It lets us take equipment in and transport [injured people] out in a safe manner,” he said.
The trailer and the TMVFD’s ATV Rescue Team are being made available to other fire departments throughout Kanawha County and surrounding counties.
“We can also assist the Kanawha County Ambulance Authority and sheriff’s department.”
Currently, the new rescue trailer is being pulled by ATVs owned by the firefighters. But the department has applied for two grants to purchase an ATV for the rescue team.
The new equipment comes at a time when there are increased numbers of accidents in remote areas involving ATVs and off-road motorcycles.
“We’ve had 12 calls in the past two-and-half years,” Hill said.
“There’s a lot of ATVs and motorcycles out there, and ATVs are everywhere,” said TMVFD Chief David Martin.
Hill said the department researched different ATV rescue trailer designs before deciding on the one built by All Terrain Rescue.
Its narrow width, ideal for the narrow trails found in the area, was one of the deciding factors in the purchase.
“It follows right along behind the ATV,” Hill said.
The 230-pound trailer comes equipped with a “stokes basket,” a type of stretcher in which injured people are transported.
“This allows a smoother ride,” he said.
The trailer also comes with an “IV pole” on which bags of intravenous fluids can be hung. There is also a seat built into the trailer on which an EMT can sit while riding with a victim.
“The seat is designed so the EMT can tend to the patient while they’re moving.”
For night time rescues, the trailer also has a built-in searchlight. There is also a built-in medical tray for holding equipment such as portable defibrillators.
Hill said the department’s ATV Rescue Team was formed about two years ago. The team has learned such skills as “search patterns” and how to use global positioning satellite receivers and read topographic maps.
A representative from All Terrain Rescue delivered the trailer and demonstrated its use to the ATV Rescue Team.
The team practiced with the trailer during a three-hour training session recently at the Poca Hunting & Fishing Club.