Great Barrington firefighter Chris Laramee drives the department's new utility task vehicle.
The department demonstrates how an injured person can be transported with the new UTV.
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Fire Department used its newly purchased utility task vehicle (UTV) this week to rescue an injured hiker.
Around 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, the Fire and Police departments, along with Southern Berkshire Ambulance, responded to Monument Mountain Reservation for a report of a 23-year-old woman with a broken ankle.
First responders were able to use GPS to track her location, which they determined to be a few thousand feet off Indian Mountain Trail, or about a mile-and-a-half into the woods, according to Fire Chief Charles Burger.
Using the Fire Department's new UTV, firefighters trained in technical rescue reached the woman within 15 minutes.
Medics assessed and stabilized her injury before she was loaded into the UTV and taken to the parking lot. Southern Berkshire Ambulance then transported her to an area hospital in stable condition.
In total, 30 rescue personnel responded to the scene, including the Sheffield Fire Department, which stood by with additional all-terrain vehicles. All units were clear from the scene shortly after 10 p.m.
"We were prepared for this situation to go a number of ways, but thankfully it was resolved quickly and successfully," Burger said. "Typically, rescues on the mountain take three or more hours and involve a lot of hiking and rigging of rope rescue systems. Also, given the time of night that this incident occurred, darkness would have greatly complicated matters if it weren't for the UTV."
The Great Barrington Firefighters Association recently purchased the rescue UTV, which has proven to be an asset to the department in its efforts to quickly and safely transport injured people. Wednesday night's incident is the second time this year the UTV was used on a search and rescue incident.
After identifying the serious need for the equipment, the association raised $21,000 to make the purchase at no cost to Great Barrington's taxpayers. It is fully outfitted with skid plates, a roll cage, scene lighting and a rescue body for carrying a patient and equipment. Previously, in a situation like Wednesday night, firefighters would have needed to hike in the whole way and carry the patient out.
"The UTV enables us to operate a lot more safely and efficiently," Burger said. "I would like to thank those who supported our fundraising efforts, along with Lt. AJ Anderson and firefighter Chris Laramee, who put in most of the work for the design and purchase of the unit."
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