By Jim Andrews

With Winter’s snows fully upon us and the presence of scores of snowmobilers riding the many miles of trails snaking through the woods of Delaware County, the Andes Fire Department and Emergency Squad have been busy sharpening their winter rescue skills.  Winter accidents, particularly those that occur in hills, sometimes miles from the highway, present unique challenges for the Fire Department and Emergency Squad.  The severity of these accidents, which are often exacerbated by high rates of speed, limited visibility, extreme cold, difficult access and delays in reporting, pose serious threats to their victims.

With this in mind, your Fire and EMS have prepared themselves should such an accident occur.  On February 13, under the direction of Fire Chief Joe Berghammer and Squad Captain Laurie Andrews, the department held a drill in the woods above the Andel Inn on Route 28.  A snowmobile accident was staged with snowmobilers Ryan Little and Tom Winchester playing the parts of the victims.  Using the department’s all-terrain Ranger, snowmobile and rescue sled, fire department members transported EMTs  and rescue equipment to the accident site where the EMTs triaged, treated and prepared the victims for transport to the ambulance waiting at Route 28.  The Ranger and the rescue sled can both transport one patient and an EMT, with the patients being adequately immobilized and secured to the vehicle making easier any further treatment needed enroute down the hill.  Several members of the Bovina Fire Department and Emergency Squad participated in this drill.  The two departments provide mutual aid to each other and this drill gave them an opportunity to work together.

Since accidents don’t necessarily happen on a sunny afternoon, another drill was held on February 24, this time in the evening so that Fire and EMS could practice their rescue skills in the dark.  This time a hunting accident was simulated adjacent to the snowmobile trail that winds its way from the Rural Cemetery to the top of the mountain.  Jonathan Andrews used his acting skills to portray a hunter who had been accidentally shot by his father and was found on a rock in the middle of a field.  His father John simulated the very possible scenario of the father fainting and injuring himself as he falls. A newly purchased rechargeable LED floodlight was used to illuminate the area and along with individual headlamps used by squad members provided ample lighting for treating and packaging the patients.  Two members of the Delhi Emergency Squad also participated in this drill.  Delhi provides Advanced Life Support (ALS) assistance for the Andes Fire District and again, working together was beneficial in the event that a real incident occurs.

The all-terrain Ranger was purchased with funds raised through a letter campaign held several years ago.  This vehicle has tracks used for snow travel which can be removed and replaced with wheels for use in summer weather.  The Fire Department and Emergency Squad also purchased a snowmobile and rescue sled, which is equipped with skis for winter use and tires for summer rescues.  The rescue sled also carries a backboard and the basic rescue equipment needed for patient treatment.

The Fire Department and Emergency Squad routinely hold drills in anticipation of potential accidents and to maintain their skills working together.~

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