The gift of life, with plenty of horses to spare

Enbridge fleet vehicle donations will boost response times for North Dakota emergency organizations

Among the daily acts of bravery committed by Gary Larson and his colleagues, topping the list is the gift of life.

That’s because nearly 70 percent of the calls handled by the East Grand Forks Fire Department are for medical emergencies.

“We go out ahead of the ambulances on nearly every call, because the ambulance service is based in Grand Forks, about 15 minutes out,” says Larson, fire chief with the East Grand Forks FD, based in northwestern Minnesota along the North Dakota border.

“We run AEDs (defibrillators). And all our personnel, and some of our paid-on-call staff, are EMTs themselves,” he adds. “So we do basic life support, ahead of the ambulance.”

Just last week, East Grand Forks FD got its hands on another valuable tool for those medical emergencies—and other calls, too. It’s a 2010 Chevy Silverado 2500HD truck, one of 20 former Enbridge fleet vehicles donated to first response organizations across the North Dakota region.

“We definitely have plans for this new unit. We had four medical calls going on at once the other day, so we’ll be able to put this truck into service right away with medical equipment,” says Larson. “We’re also looking to install a skid unit in the truck bed, so it can hold a water tank, hose reel, pump and foam injection system for grass fires.

“And since it’s a three-quarter-ton, it will be able to pull our hazardous materials rescue trailer. What a difference this has made for our department . . . the uses are virtually unlimited.”

During a Friday appreciation luncheon in Minot, we presented 20 emergency response organizations from across North Dakota and Minnesota with the keys to retired Enbridge fleet vehicles.

“These agencies are primarily volunteer-based, which requires many hours spent on fundraising,” says Ryan Nelson, Enbridge’s North Dakota-based emergency response coordinator. “The more ways we can partner with our responders the better and more prepared we are as an industry.”

Since our vehicle donation program began, we’ve donated 40 former Enbridge fleet vehicles across North Dakota and Minnesota. First response organizations have used these trucks as command vehicles, grassland and small structure firefighting units, personnel transport, and extrication units, with heavy hydraulic rescue tools mounted on slider beds.

“What a treat. In our annual budget, it seems the wheeled vehicles always get put off to buy equipment and fire apparatus,” says Larson.

“This is huge for us. A 2010 pickup like that . . . that’s quite a gift.”