By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
EXETER – Exeter Rescue Corps, located on Ted Rod Road next to the town hall, has a brand new emergency truck parked out front, sparkling like Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels.
It was selected by a committee of the squad’s employees who researched the possibilities, put together specifications and reviewed what was in the marketplace. They came up with an outstanding vehicle costing $150,000 – a terrific bargain considering that many trucks with all the bells and whistles go for as much as $250,000.
Chief Dennis Colacone, retired from the Rhode Air National Guard and an emergency medical technician at Salve Regina University, is delighted with how things turned out.
It’s been clear for some time that the Rescue 2 truck needed to be replaced. After many years of service, it has accumulated over 100,000 miles; the maintenace and insurance costs had become prohibitive.
“Basically, the employees bought the [new] truck,” explains Colacone. “I got the full-time employees together as a truck committee and gave them orders to call and make appointments and bring salesmen in” to make presentations. “I said ‘The board will worry about the money.’”
The chief notes that he and Capt. Charlie Chappell kept out of the way.
“Management stood back. They [squad members] took the initiative and went with it. The guys deserve a lot of credit. They did a great job.” Because they chose the truck, he believes “they have ownership in it; they’ll take care of it as if it’s their own.”
He was amazed by the deal they got from PL Custom Emergency Vehicles of Manasquan, N.J. “I thought it would cost $180,000-$190,000.” There are no fancy lights or other non-essentials. The only “extra” they chose was a camera that’s mounted on the interior rearview mirror to show the driver what’s behind the truck when it’s backing up.
“We saw it at an EMS conference in Warwick,” says Colacone. “I said ‘put it on.’ It’s almost like a night-vision camera.”
It will greatly enhance safety on rescue runs in rural Exeter where boulders are commonplace and lighting is minimal.
The truck was purchased through a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
When the radios are installed in the new Rescue 2, the old truck will be decommissioned and sold.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .