Speake Volunteer Fire Department recently added an emergency response vehicle to its fleet thanks to $7,000 in donations from members of the community.
The 2013 Ford Expedition was purchased from a municipal entity in Kentucky and saw its first day of service in Lawrence County last Wednesday, Assistant Fire Chief Gunnar Walling said.
Walling said the Expedition replaces a 1998 Ford 3500 diesel truck the department’s Station 1 formerly used for medical response.
“This purchase allows us to transfer that vehicle to our second station in the Five Points community, which significantly improves response time in that area,” Walling said. “We typically run medical calls more frequently from Station 1, but we’ve never run those calls from Station 2. Transferring that truck will make Station 2 fully operational.”
Walling said he began reaching out to members of the community he knew personally for donations toward the purchase. He said he felt overwhelmed by the response after quickly raising several hundred dollars.
“This shows how great our community really is. We are under funded, but we feel support from our residents 100 percent,” said Walling. “We couldn’t have started this project without them.”
Although many volunteer departments in Lawrence County have ceased response to medical calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortage in personal protective equipment, Walling said his department hasn’t experienced a PPE shortage.
“We’re not running every single call,” he said last week. “If a medical call comes through as ‘non-priority,’ like if someone has leg pain or something they choose to call an ambulance for, we don’t run those. We already had a supply of masks, isolation kits, gloves and things like that. If we get a call for a possible COVID patient, we have the equipment to suit up in full gear.”