The Elba Volunteer Fire Department accepted a grant check Tuesday afternoon, June 7, from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation that is allowing the department to update its extrication equipment utilized in many traffic crash emergencies.
The grant check was in the amount of $24,445.
Elba Fire Chief Drew Parker said his wish is for the extrication equipment to never leave the truck and be utilized, but he said that unfortunately is not the way things work. He said the equipment is used much more than anyone ever realizes due to the number of traffic incidents the department responds to in its coverage area as well as assisting other local agencies.
According to research from the CDC, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in the United States for people ages 1-54.
“This year, thanks to a $24,445 grant from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, the heroes of Elba Volunteer Fire Department will be better equipped to save the lives of their fellow citizens in motor vehicle accidents,” said EmmaJean Livingston, manager of public relations for Firehouse Subs.
She said funds collected for this donation were made by guests in Firehouse Subs restaurants.
Livingston said there are three ways to donate to the foundation for the grant funds – purchase of a pickle bucket for $3, donate change at the register, or round up a check to the next dollar at Firehouse Subs.
Such donations led to Tuesday’s presentation to the Elba Volunteer Fire Department at the Firehouse Subs franchise restaurant in Enterprise, Ala., which is owned by Elba native Derick Thomas.
“I am thankful to be a part of a restaurant that is not just a restaurant but is part of a partnership with a foundation that leads to things like this all over the nation,” said Thomas.
He also thanked the firefighters for their service and said he was honored to partner with them also in acquiring the live-saving equipment – a TNT Cutter, Spreader, Ram with Extension Kit and accessories – via the grant funds.
After accepting the official grant check from Thomas, Chief Parker said he was thankful to be able to work with Thomas, the local franchisee for Firehouse Subs, to be able to get the award.
“Without a local contact, like Derick, it is hard to get these type donations,” Parker said. “I also want to thank the foundation because with our without folks like Derick this would not even be possible if the foundation did not exist.”
The fire chief said Firehouse Subs made a similar donation to the Elba Volunteer Fire Department 12 years ago, and he said that piece of extrication equipment purchased then is still used on the fire truck today.
“There is no telling how many lives have been saved with that piece of equipment over the past 12 years,” Parker said. “That is our first tool out at an accident.”
However, he said the department was looking to update the equipment because vehicle technology has changed over the past 12 years.
“We used to use the equipment years ago to cut the metals on a vehicle when someone was trapped,” Parker said. “Today, we apply more pressure on the vehicle and break the metal because of the type of metals being used on vehicles. It is all done that way for the safety of the occupants.”
Due to the change in vehicle technology, he said the department realized a need to update its equipment too.
“These new tools are much more efficient,” Parker said. “What was the latest and greatest 12 years ago is really outdated now. These new tools are stronger, faster, and operate off battery power.”
He said all those things help the firefighters to do their job more effectively and efficiently to help those in need.
“This is the newest technology, and I hope it lasts us at least another 12 years,” Parker said. “Without Derick helping us, we would still be using outdated equipment.”
According to Livingston, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to date has granted over $3.1 million to first responder organizations across Alabama.