- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - The Bethel Fire Department is a step closer to its goal of buying and stocking a new ambulance after receiving a $25,000 donation.

The recent donation comes from the Rasmuson Foundation, KYUK-AM reported (https://bit.ly/2soF1hx) Thursday. The foundation’s mission is to promote a better life for Alaska residents, according to its website.

The fire department has been struggling with resources, as it currently uses two ambulances that are both more than 14 years old.

“They’re old and they’ve been beat up on Bethel roads,” Fire Chief Bill Howell said. “They don’t get to warm up. They get started and have to respond immediately.”

Howell said the vehicles sometimes need to be fixed by mechanics in the middle of the night. And when times get desperate, the crews have to break out a red pickup truck to save lives.

“Pretty much no idea was shunned,” Howell said. “We knew we had a big task ahead of us.”

The money will help purchase a stretcher, a loader and a tool called the jaws of life, which is used to break out people who are trapped in vehicles.

Bethel’s fire and rescue teams have been raising funds for nearly a year. They’ve tried it all, from selling bratwurst and handmade pottery to hosting bingo nights and a volleyball tournament. The new ambulance is set to arrive on the last barge in September.

“It’s been a real kind of dog pile of fundraising efforts,” Howell said. “Just getting there any way we can.”

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org


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