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Stevenson, WA, March, 15, 2023, 0800. Skamania EMS & Rescue has taken delivery of a new Polaris Ranger, a side by side UTV. With this new apparatus, the agency takes a major step forward toward the goal of expanding emergency medical and rescue services into the communities and wilderness areas of Skamania County.

Funding for this vehicle was covered in part by monies awarded under Title III of the Secure Rural Schools Act. Title III authorizes reimbursement to counties for emergency response activities performed on federally managed lands. In addition to emergency medical services, law enforcement patrols, firefighting and search and rescue activities all qualify for reimbursement under Title III.

Skamania EMS & Rescue was able to allocate from the general fund budget for project costs not covered by the twenty-five-thousand-dollar Title III grant award. As a result of allocating these funds, this vehicle can also be utilized in many emergency medical capacities.

More than one million visitors and residents recreate annually on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and within the Columbia River Gorge Scenic area. This vehicle will be a valuable tool used in the established emergency response program, and will assist emergency responders with accessing patients in remote or hard to reach areas; and further allow for the movement of sick or injured persons to an awaiting ambulance.

The capabilities and use of this vehicle are not restricted to use in wilderness areas. Adding this vehicle to our response program provides many opportunities for the agency to better serve the community with our local response partners. In times the UTV is not being directly utilized in the wilderness setting, the vehicle will remain available to respond to community needs in a variety of ways such as:

-Severe winter weather conditions: the UTV will be outfitted with Snow Tracks which will provide emergency responders with the ability to better access winter recreation areas and make access to impassible roads or driveways of community members who are in need of emergency services.

-Wildfire season: state and federal agencies have the ability to contract with Skamania EMS & Rescue for fire line medical services, such as last year with the Nakia Creek Fire. This UTV, along with career staff members will be able to respond and provide treatment and care to fire line personnel during these deployment periods.

-Community outreach programs: the UTV will be utilized in a variety of ways for community events and public relations such as the County Fair.

Prior to this vehicle going into service, all career personnel will undergo an Off Road Vehicle Training program. This program will evaluate skills and ensure the competency of all vehicle operators.

Skamania EMS & Rescue is excited about the growth and movement of the agency into the future, and is committed to the continued evaluation and growth to meet community and county needs.