ST. GEORGE – Thanks to a customer-fueled public safety grant, an area restaurant helped the St. George Fire Department acquire an all-terrain vehicle for use in future public safety operations.
“Today is truly a celebration,” said Meghan Vargas, a representative of the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
Vargas, along with others from the foundation, the local Firehouse Subs franchise, and members of the St. George Fire Department were gathered in front of Firehouse Subs at Red Rock Commons, Tuesday, to welcome the Fire Department’s newest addition – a six-wheeled Polaris Ranger outfitted for medical-rescue purposes.
“It’ll be a really important piece of equipment for mountain biking and hiking accidents,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said. “It’s great to have a donation such as this.”
The ATV has been on the Fire Department’s wish list for awhile, Stoker said, as it would provide additional mobility in the back-country around St. George, as well as on the city’s 100-plus miles of trails. However, at nearly $20,000, the desire for an ATV was beat out by budget priorities year after year, such as annual fire engine maintenance which can run as high as $15,000 for a single engine, he said.
In emergency medical and rescue situations in wilderness areas where fire department personnel couldn’t take in a four-wheel drive vehicle, sometimes they would have to hike in, use private ATVs, or call in Life Flight for help to get to the scene, Stoker said.
“This will really fill a need on the medical side,” he said, adding the ATV can be used at big events like the St. George Marathon and Ironman 70.3 as well.
The ATV was provided to the Fire Department by a grant it applied for through the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The nonprofit foundation provides funding, life-saving equipment and educational opportunities to first-responders and public safety organizations. The money the foundation uses to fuel its grants comes from restaurant customers who donate through local fundraising initiatives.
The Firehouse Subs restaurant in St. George rose $18,100 for the St. George Fire Department for the ATV.
“In Utah alone, we’ve given over $172,000 through the Public Safety Foundation,” said Andy Yergensen, owner of the St. George Firehouse Subs restaurant.
“Every nickel, dime, penny; every-rounded-up dollar; every purchase of a $2 pickle bucket – all of that adds up.” Yergensen said. “All of that turns into life-saving equipment.”
Last year, Vargas said, the foundation gave out $3.5 million to public safety organizations across the county.
“We have had nothing but just support from the community,” Yergensen said.
St. George Mayor Jon Pike was also on hand to see the Fire Department’s new ATV, and even took a ride in it later on.
“Public Safety is probably the most important thing in city government,” Pike said. “Here’s a business that’s giving back and making it possible for our Fire Department to help save lives. That’s really what it’s all about: this will save lives.
For KCSG and St. George News, Melissa Anderson contributed the videocast attached to this report.
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