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After the fire: New Enterprise emergency vehicle back on the road

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Feb. 5, 2001
ENTERPRISE The Enterprise Volunteer Fire Department's ambulance service is back in business.
After losing their 1989 E-350 van in a fire last fall, the volunteers have another vehicle, which has already been certified and made its first run. Volunteers used the vehicle complete with newly replenished medical supplies to answer a wreck call Saturday.
Located on Interstate 59 on the west side of Clarke County, some 20 miles south of Meridian, the Enterprise ambulance service is part of the fire department and has been operating since the mid-1970s. They respond to all types of calls with trained EMTs and nurses.
But that stopped when an electrical fire burned the inside of their vehicle. The ambulance was in the garage with the fire trucks and other vehicles. Fortunately, nothing else was damaged.
They still had their emergency response vehicle, which is equipped with the jaws of life, medical supplies and 250 gallons of water. But they no longer could transport patients to the hospital.
That was especially true New Year's Day morning. The roads became iced during the snow storm and there were several wrecks including a fatality.
Oct. 20 seemed like any other Friday evening during football season. Three of the volunteers, Ricky Carpenter, Bessie Speed and Rev. Richard Cothern, were to bring the ambulance to the Enterprise-Taylorsville football game being played at L.J. Davis Field.
There was no fire when they arrived, but the ambulance wasn't going to make it to the football game or anywhere else. According to the police report, the fire started in the roof compartment above the driver's seat. The heat and smoke cased heavy damage throughout the vehicle. It was a total loss.
Insurance paid for the vehicle, but replacing all of the supplies and the stretcher fell on the shoulders of the volunteers. There were some donations, including a $2,000 gift from the Enterprise Masonic Lodge 585 F&AM. And the department made a loan. In all, they had to raise about $17,000 to replace all of the lost items.
After shopping on the Internet, they found a vehicle in New Jersey they liked. It was a 1995 Ford E-350 box-like ambulance. It had been used but was in good shape so they bought it.
Last month, assistant chief Jay Carruth flew to Pennsylvania on business. He drove the ambulance back to Enterprise. The Enterprise volunteers worked on it for a few weeks, stocking it with supplies and training to use the vehicle. The state inspectors certified it Tuesday and the permit came Friday.
It takes people to make the ambulance service go, and the citizens of the Enterprise area are blessed to have some good ones. The department boasts five EMRs, four EMTs and five drivers.
These are trained volunteers on call when they aren't at work, or away from home.
Having Enterprise back was a great relief to Paratech ambulance operator Dwayne Crane of Quitman, whose two ambulances have been the only ones operating out of Clarke County since Enterprise went down.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Email him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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