Emergency responders and Borough Manager John Duffy thanked Assembly Members and local Legislators today for their help in adding six new ambulances to the Mat-Su.
Manager Duffy admired the new units and their bright LED lights. "We're happy to have this new equipment and new technology to provide a top level emergency response for Borough residents."
Duffy also highlighted the partnership between the State and the Borough. "Six new ambulances, what this represents is State dollars and Borough dollars working together."
Alaska State Sen. Charlie Huggins, Rep. Carl Gatto, and Rep. Wes Keller met with chiefs and drivers today, while looking over the new units.
Sen. Huggins described the new equipment as a "success story." "It's fulfilling," he said, highlighting the benefits of a State and Borough partnership.
Rep. Gatto said the fight for local grants and needs isn't easy. "We work well together."
Rep. Keller recognized Sen. Lyda Green's efforts. "Carl and I initially got it in the capital bill, but Sen. Green gets the most credit for getting it through, and Gov. Palin, it met her criteria. Thank you," Keller said.
Rep. Bill Stoltze and Rep. Mark Neuman were unable to attend.
The ambulances will be stationed in Houston, Palmer, Sutton, and two will be in the largest district of Central. The sixth ambulance is being built and will be stationed at Big Lake/Meadow Lakes.
The ambulances cost roughly $140,000 each. State funds and Borough funds helped pay for the vehicles.
The ambulances are replacing older units with high mileage or two-wheel drive units. Some ambulances date back to 1994 and 1997. They are expensive to operate due to high maintenance. The two-wheel drive units have difficulty getting up icy driveways.
Fire Chief Bill Gamble of Meadow Lakes/Big Lake Fire Dept. said the state-of-the-art equipment shows support for the paid, on-call responders. "By supporting them with this equipment it inspires the on-call responders," Gamble said. "When the page goes out, these people get up from dinner, from bed, from work. They drop everything to respond to a call for help from our fellow citizens."
Most Borough emergency responders are not full time employees and have jobs elsewhere, but respond to emergencies when called. Gamble has been an air traffic controller for 24 years and a paid, on-call responder here for nearly 20 years.
Top photo: five new ambulances, second photo: Rep. Wes Keller and Rep. Carl Gatto, third photo: Sen. Charlie Huggins with Manager John Duffy and emergency responders.