WHEATON, Md. - Firefighters in flood-ravaged West Virginia are expressing deep gratitude after learning that members of the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad in Maryland have answered their urgent call for help.
The Maryland firefighters are donating an ambulance that will replace one that has been destroyed in Clay County, West Virginia, which was hit hard by the flooding.
The rescue squad learned about the urgent call for help from Clay County after receiving emails about their problems resulting from the floods.
“In that, it was indicated that they had lost at least one ambulance that had been totaled in Clay County and they were desperate to get a replacement ambulance,” said Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad Chief Mark Dempsey. “We recognized that the ambulance was something we could help them with very quickly.”
Dempsey said the squad had a surplus ambulance and he approached the board of directors about the struggles in West Virginia.
“I represented to our board of directors that a good use of this surplus ambulance would be to get it to West Virginia and they need it as soon as possible,” he said. “And it was a pretty quick vote – a unanimous vote from the board of directors to move the ambulance on to somebody who really needs it.”
This ambulance was just recently retired and it only has about 100,000 miles on it. The chief said that when they get it to West Virginia, the firefighters there can stock it, put their own radios inside and they will be ready to go within hours.
“From a department standpoint, it was a nice feeling to be able to do this,” said Dempsey. “In our 75-year history, we have had some ups and downs, and every time we have had a down, somebody else has stepped in and helped us. So to be able to return the favor to somebody else made us feel really good. While we like to replace ambulances every eight years, you can see that it is a very nice ambulance, it was well-built originally and I think it will serve them for a number of years to come.”
What would have happened to the ambulance otherwise?
“We would have held it and then sold it as surplus,” Dempsey said. “Certainly it had value to us. We just saw the greater value at this time was donating it to West Virginia.”
Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad volunteers will drive the ambulance to Clay County on Wednesday.