NH town to accept donated firefighter rehab vehicle

The emergency vehicle is a former ambulance that was used by the Bedford Fire Department


By Dan O'Brien
The Union Leader

ALLENSTOWN, N.H. — Selectmen voted last night to accept a donated medical rehabilitation vehicle for the fire department, but not before hearing concerns from a resident about the implications of doing so.

Sandy McKenney, chairman of the town budget committee and former selectman, wanted to make sure the rehab vehicle — which looks a lot like an ambulance — will not be used in place of the town's contracted ambulance service, Tri-Town.

"This town cannot afford an ambulance," McKenney said. "I want to make sure Tri-Town stays as our ambulance service. They've done a great job."

Last month, Hooksett ended its contract with Tri-Town in place of its own ambulance service, leaving Allenstown and Pembroke the only two remaining communities using Tri-Town.

The rehab vehicle is a former ambulance that was used by the Bedford Fire Department. The Allenstown Firefighters Association purchased the vehicle for about $6,000 then donated it to the town for free, using no taxpayer money.

Allenstown Fire Capt. Eric Lambert said the rehab vehicle contains all the equipment of an ambulance except a stretcher, stair chair, cot and cardiac monitor. He said it would be used to treat patients on medical calls before a legitimate ambulance from Tri-Town arrives at the scene.

"We have to provide care before Tri-Town arrives," Lambert said.

Firefighters currently use ladder trucks or fire engines to respond to medical aid calls. If a patient needs to be transported to the hospital, Tri-Town will perform that function.

"It's most likely going to reduce the cost of maintenance and lower the load on fire vehicles," Lambert said.

Lambert said the fire department could plan to use the rehab vehicle as an ambulance in the future if Tri-Town were to become "unavailable," but said there are no plans to do that anytime soon.

"In the event Tri-Town is unavailable in the future, it will be a back-up ambulance," Lambert said. "We're uncertain of the future."

Officials suggested placing wording on the side of the vehicle that clearly states it's a rehab vehicle. Selectman Jason Tardiff suggested a phrase indicating it was donated to the town.

McKenney expressed concern that residents will think the town purchased an ambulance when they see the vehicle out and about.

"You need to get that (information) out to the public," McKenney said.

"No matter what you call it, it's an ambulance." Selectmen were obligated by law to hold a public hearing before accepting the vehicle on behalf of the town. They voted unanimously to accept the vehicle.

Copyright 2010 Union Leader Corp.
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