Rapid rescues save lives: New Wilson fire truck helps crews react quickly

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In the aftermath of a crash, every minute counts for those pinned inside a wrecked vehicle. Wilson Fire/Rescue’s new Engine 4 enables crews to get to work immediately rather than spend critical time setting up equipment.

“We’re able to pull up and go right to work without assembling any equipment, and that increases the likelihood of a person’s survival,” said Deputy Chief Michael Sumner.

The three shifts at Station 4 near Cavalier Park have spent the past few weeks getting acclimated to the new truck’s capabilities, including Thursday training at the Wilson Community College training grounds off U.S. 301.

Capt. Michael Bass, engineer Todd Hensley and engineer Pittman Horton were able to use multiple hydraulic and electric tools at the same time, pulling off the side doors and raising the dash of a wrecked car within about 20 minutes.

In the past, that might have taken crews twice as long, if not longer. And more time spent extricating a patient from a wrecked vehicle means critical medical care is delayed. That could have serious ramifications.

“Before, we would have to load all the equipment off the truck, and some of it would take two people to carry,” said Bass. “Now we can just pull up and get to work.”

The equipment needed to respond to serious wrecks often meant multiple trucks responding to a scene, but Engine 4 carries everything.

“We built this truck to work,” said Sumner. “It is a work vehicle that is designed to provide the best level of service we can to the community.”

Since the truck was christened in March and put into service, it has hauled crews to fires and EMS calls but hasn’t been beckoned to a vehicle wreck yet. Sumner noted that crews have to stay abreast of safety features and scenarios presented by a gamut of vehicles, but having the right equipment helps.

“Today you’ve got everything from a small two-seater to a massive 60,000-pound vehicle, and the types of steel they put in cars to protect occupants is getting harder,” he said. “We have to keep up and make sure our tools have the correct PSI to cut through it.”