Sen. Cathy Young helps department secure grant funding

WELLSVILLE — Rescue equipment purchased with state grant funds has already been put into service during a New Year’s Eve water rescue in Friendship.

State Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I - 57th District) was in Wellsville Saturday when members of the Emerald Hook and Ladder Company and the Grant Duke Hose Company unveiled rescue equipment they purchased with $9,500 each in grant funds Young helped them to obtain. Earlier, Duke Hose First Assistant Barney Dillie said that much of the equipment was put into service when they responded to a water rescue on VanCampen Creek New Year’s Eve when a driver tried to drive through the creek and bogged down.

Noting that, Young said, “We have beautiful areas in this county for hiking, climbing and boating, and you are always there to help keep those people safe.”

Young also commented that she is amazed at the equipment, which was displayed on and beside two large tables in the Duke Hose Company common room.

“I am so impressed with the amount of equipment you were able to purchase. You really stretched that grant money. You used to tell me that you needed more equipment for your trucks, now you tell me you haven’t got enough room in your trucks for all the new equipment.”

The equipment purchased is utilized for Firefighter Rescue, Overhaul, Advanced Firefighting Tactics, confined space, water and rope rescue operations, according to Dillie and Captain Garret Gardner of the Emeralds.

Dillie said that the new equipment will be used to compliment the new Tactical Rescue Team.

The equipment purchased included a tripod for confined space rescue, two dry suits for water rescue, ropes, carabiners and descenders, and a collapsible Stokes basket for the Duke Hose company. The Emeralds purchased rechargeable light stands and power tools, as well as high lift jacks and a penetrating nozzle which can break through a wall and put 100 gallons of water on a site within a minute.

Emerald’s First Assistant Michael Walsh commented that much of their purchase was equipment for scene safety including traffic cones, vests and lights.

“If we need it, we have it,” he said.

Duke Captain Joe Gray said the reason for the equipment purchase is to compliment the training many members of the department have undertaken with other departments located in Salamanca, Allegany and Westons Mills.

“We saw a need for it,” he said about joining forces with the other department and with the Emeralds forming the new tactical team. “We had the training, but we didn’t have the equipment,” he added.

“We’ve had situations in the past where we had the trained personnel, but not the equipment," Dillie said. "This acquisition supports the commitment members of the department have made to get the training for these kinds of situations.”

The recent New Year’s Eve incident as well as a recent rescue from the second floor of a derelict building on the former Sinclair Refinery site point out the need for the equipment and training, he said.

“This helps us to combine the talents of our regional area including Salamanca, Westons Mills and Allegany,” Dillie said. “It enables us to pool our resources, so that we are not redundant.”

There are 22 members in the Duke Hose Company and between 10 and 20 have received special rescue training or are currently pursuing the training. It includes 40 hours of water rescue training and 100 hours in basic, state and local training, in addition to fire fighting training.

Gardner said there are about 47 members of the Emeralds Hook and Ladder. Gardner, along with Bryan and Michael Walsh, are trained in rescue tactics, including water rescue.

The pooling of men and resources also helps the departments overcome the low numbers of people who are volunteering their time in the fire department.

“This helps us cope with the dwindling numbers of volunteers,” Dillie said.

Membership in the local fire departments and rescue units is open to anyone based on passing the required physicals and training. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact any firemen to obtain an application.