By Aila Boyd
aboyd@ourvalley.org

The Botetourt County Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) held two “pushing in” ceremonies last Thursday to celebrate the commissioning of two new ambulances— one at the Troutville Volunteer Fire Department and another at the Fincastle Volunteer Fire Department.

This is a first for us,” Jason Ferguson, chief of Fire and EMS for Botetourt County, said of the ceremonies. “We wanted to establish some traditions that could be carried on and passed down.”

Ferguson explained that after looking at the various traditions that other departments have, he decided that holding “pushing in” ceremonies would be the perfect way to celebrate the commission of new ambulances. “Pushing in” ceremonies allow fire and EMS crews, as well as community members, the opportunity to push the new ambulances into the station before making their maiden voyages.

As for new fire trucks, he said he has decided to go with “wetting down” ceremonies. “Wetting down” ceremonies entail the spraying of water on the new fire trucks by ones that are already in the fleet. “Wetting down” ceremonies will take place in Eagle Rock and Blue Ridge in the near future.

The truck is going to see hundreds of thousands of people over its tenure. Each one of those interactions is going to be a life altering moment for those people,” he said.

He added that the addition of two new ambulances is important to the community because of the fact that whenever someone is riding in one, they’re in the midst of a life altering situation. Although the outcomes aren’t always desirable, he said, those who respond to calls have the opportunity to positively impact individuals’ lives during their time of need.

This community is served very well by each and every one of you,” Gary Larrowe, county administrator for Botetourt, said to the volunteer and career fire and EMS personnel who participated in the “pushing in” ceremony. “To have the best equipment to go along with the best people, that is something that is imperative to the community.”

Larrowe added that he “loved” the idea of starting a “pushing in” and “wetting down” tradition.

The new ambulances are identical and are Ford F550s. The price tag for each one was $247,000.

Unlike the ambulances that they are replacing, the new ones have a load system for the cots. The system can hold up to 700 pounds.

Ferguson described the system as being a “back saving piece of equipment.” He noted that normally only two people respond to a call, which means that one person has to be in the back of the ambulance guiding the cot in while the other person is left having to shoulder nearly all of the weight.

Both of the ambulances that were replaced had “well over 110,000 miles.” The one in Trouville has been in use for eight years.

Supervisor Dr. Richard Bailey, who represents the Fincastle District on the Board of Supervisors, was at the “pushing in” ceremony in Fincastle.

I would like to say from the Board of Supervisors, thank you all for what you do. It’s extremely important work. It’s vital to the community to have good people providing such an important service,” Bailey said to the fire and EMS workers who were present in Fincastle. “We’re glad to have this new piece of equipment assist you with your extremely important job.”

Ferguson also noted that the week of April 14-20 was National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

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