SCCF grant helps Cambridge Fire Department buy emergency response equipment

Barb McBreenCambridge Correspondent
SCCF grant helps Cambridge Fire Department buy emergency response equipment

Four years ago Bill Hook won the Sullivan Brothers Award for Valor for rescuing two girls from a flooded, fast-moving creek near Cambridge.

The experience made him realize that the Cambridge Volunteer Fire Department needed to be equipped to address unusual emergency situations. Hook, who has served on the department for 14 years and as chief for the past three years decided to look for funds to purchase a portable medical bed skid unit.

A medical bed skid unit is small, so it that can be attached to an all-terrai-vehicle (ATV). The beds are designed by firefighters to rescue and treat patients in wild land emergency situations.

Hook knew from experience that such a unit would be helpful in emergencies where large trucks couldn’t maneuver, such as the Cambridge ATV park, bike trails and inaccessible farmland and timber areas.

To purchase the medical bed, Hook applied for and received a $6,000 grant from the Story County Community Foundation. After receiving the grant and purchasing the $7,500 medical bed, department members began looking for ways to purchase an ATV vehicle to carry the medical bed.

Ryan Schlater, a Cambridge resident and member of the fire department, sent Hook a photo of a surplus vehicle at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The vehicle was a 1982 Unimog that was part of the IDNR’s surplus stock.

“The vehicle was green, big and ugly,” Hook said, but he decided to give it a try.

Unimogs, which have a Mercedes Benz engine and a Freightliner chassis, are built with a high ground clearance and capable of driving through five feet of water.

“The Unimog looks like an ATV on steroids,” Hook said.

After painting the vehicle fire engine red, applying decals and installing the medical bed skid unit, the vehicle looks like it was made for the job. Hook said the Unimog even had room for an additional water tank, so the unit can carry 170 gallons of water.

“It’s working out great,” Hook said. “We’ve taken it out on a couple of trails and tested the water hose and it works really well.”