St. Charles gives Crook County Fire and Rescue $100,000 toward the purchase of two new vehicles

JASON CHANEY - Battalion Chief Jeremiah Kenfield displays the mechanized cot.

Crook County Fire and Rescue is benefitting from a six-figure donation that will help the district purchase two new ambulances and improve other aspects of the agency.

St. Charles Health System is donating $100,000 to help the district. The two agencies celebrated the donation, the purchase and their long-standing partnership during an event this past Thursday outside of the St. Charles Prineville Emergency Department.

One of the new ambulances is already in service and the other is expected to arrive in September. They cost about $250,000 each and will come equipped with several new features that will reduce strain on EMTs' bodies and make both patients and EMTs safer and more secure, said Crook County Fire and Rescue paramedic and Battalion Chief Jeremiah Kenfield. Those features include airbags in the back of the ambulance, a restraint system that secures EMTs while allowing them to move around and provide patient care, and most prominently, a mechanical apparatus that loads the heavy patient cot into and out of the ambulance.

The loading apparatus is a "game-changer" for the EMTs, Kenfield said, because it will save them thousands of cot-lifts every year and almost certainly reduce back injuries.

Safer, healthier EMTs are music to the ears of Crook County Fire and Rescue Chief Matt Smith, who said St. Charles' donation is an opportunity to take money that was earmarked for an ambulance and spend it elsewhere in a growing district where tax revenues don't cover the increasing level of service needed.

"We don't have the ability to snap our fingers and build capacity any more than anybody else does," Smith said. "So, when unexpected money comes in, we can put it to use elsewhere in the district to increase the capacity of our services and try to keep up with the growth in our community."

For St. Charles, the donation isn't just about maintaining the current level of care, but planning for the future of the community, too.

"We're fortunate to enjoy such a positive and productive history of working with Crook County Fire and Rescue," said Shannon Edgar, chief nursing officer at St. Charles Prineville. "We certainly value their partnership, and we look forward to building on it for many years to come."

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