MEXICO — Saturday’s warm spring day brought area drivers out in droves to get their vehicles washed at the Mexico Fire Department.
The car wash is the first of many planned as fundraisers by the Mexico Firefighters Relief Association to raise $10,000 to buy a Polaris six-wheel, all-terrain vehicle to assist the department with backcountry rescues, Lt. Jamee Theriault said.
“With ATVs becoming more popular in this area, we feel that this could be very beneficial to the area,” Theriault said.
That became evident last November when fellow firefighter Capt. Ed Carey and his wife, Cathy, were hunting in Rumford and the ATV they were driving overturned.
Cathy was critically injured. Mutual-aid was called due to the long carryout required, Theriault said.
One of the mutual-aid towns that responded was Andover, which came with their own Polaris six-wheeler.
“The incline was very steep where we had to carry Cathy from,” she said. “Without the ATV, the carryout could have been a lot worse.”
She said it allowed them to place their Stokes basket in the back of the ATV, enabling them to safely descend the hill more slowly.
“It saved on more injury to the patient and allowed firefighters to have more control with the patient,” Theriault said.
“Andover is always eager to respond when needed, but the response time could be critical to getting the patient out of the woods.”
Additionally, last month after months of negotiation, selectmen from Mexico and Byron agreed on a 15-year deal that calls for the Mexico Fire Department to provide fire coverage for Byron.
Byron’s Fire Department disbanded several months ago because of fewer volunteer firefighters and more training and paperwork required.
Emergency responders are frequently sent to Byron’s rugged backcountry to rescue injured ATV riders, hikers and even hunters.
That’s also driving the Mexico Firefighters Relief Association to purchase a six-wheeler, Theriault said.
Other fundraising ideas now under way include redeeming donated bottles and cans and the upcoming sale of green reflective address plates for residences.
“Time is our enemy,” she said.
“In an emergency, locating the caller’s address as soon as possible is the first step in saving lives and property. Time wasted searching for the proper address is something many callers to 911 don’t have.”
She said many people have failed to adequately mark their homes. That’s why the association will be selling the address plates for $15 and installing them.
The plates can be ordered at the Mexico Fire Department. That’s also where anyone can drop off redeemable cans and bottles.
Theriault said their goal is to raise $10,000, but they realize they’ll probably need a bit more for a trailer for the six-wheeler and ramps.
Their last major fundraiser was to purchase a thermal imaging camera several years ago, Ed Carey said.