Apache helicopter ushers in First Reponders Car Show – honoring heroes, finding the lost

WASHINGTON CITY — An Apache helicopter landing at the Washington City Community Center early Saturday morning ushered in the third annual First Responders Car Show in honor of the men and women who are there to help during some of life’s worst moments. Hundreds enjoyed the daylong event showcasing classic cars and attractions with event proceeds going to fund Project Lifesaver programs in police departments throughout the county.

Hundreds of vintage beauties line the grass at the First Responders Car Show Saturday, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 28, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

After landing, the Apache helicopter was joined by a 2,000-pound Rotor Wing R-44 helicopter flown by aviation instructors Robert Paul and Daniel Garcia from Southern Utah University’s aviation program. An armored tank followed after a police escort from the Utah National Guard Armory, along with several other military, emergency and police vehicles.

The event showcased more than 200 vintage cars lined up along lawns of green. Attractions included concession stands, music, bounce houses and a climbing wall, among others.

The events honorees represent a diverse coalition of trained first responders — firefighters, emergency medical personnel and police officers — not splintered by badges, jurisdictions or uniforms. When disaster strikes, it’s all hands on deck — no questions asked. They work long hours and irregular shifts, run into burning buildings, tend to the injured after horrible car crashes and face danger at a moments notice to help a complete stranger.

Southern Utah Universitie’s Rotor Wing Pilot Program flighs in from Cedar City to support the First Responders Car Show Saturday, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 28, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The moment a 911 call is connected, a chain reaction is activated when the emergency dispatcher answers, triggering the paging of firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and ambulances and police officers.

One call can trigger a massive response.

Taking a day to recognize these heroes and the contribution they make is something Darren Nuttall, event organizer and operations manager and owner of Desert Sports Management, said he is passionate about. The community coming together to honor them for their service is important, he said, because life without them would be very different, indeed.

The event was the third of its kind, put on by Nuttall and event sponsors Car Guys Care.

The car show also served to raise money for Project Lifesaver, a program designed to assist agencies, including those within Washington County, in locating a child or adult who has a cognitive condition – such as Alzheimer’s, autism, dementia or Down syndrome – that compels them to wander off.

“We are supporting the Project Lifesaver program and honoring first responders because we are passionate about both, because in the end the tracking program and first responders keep people safer,” Nuttall said.

Children sit in a Razor with St. George Police Officer Lona Trombley standing by at the First Responders Car Show Saturday, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 28, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Washington City Police Department supports the event as a way to benefit agencies throughout the county in securing funding for the program, Police Chief Jim Keith said, adding that the Washington City government was also instrumental in providing the venue for the event.

“It’s really a nice event today, and we are hoping just to build on it each year going forward,” Keith said.

To continue expanding the program to residents throughout Washington County, the proceeds from the car show will fund Project Lifesaver programs run by several police departments ,Washington City Police Officer and program coordinator Robb Radley said.

“My goal is to have the program run throughout the county,” he said, “and to do what I can so that each department has what they need in terms of equipment so that any resident, regardless of where they live, has access to something that will help locate their loved one safely.”

Children playing on bounce houses at the First Responders Car Show that raises funds for Project Life Saver Saturday, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 28, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

In 2016, Washington City received a $68,000 grant from Intermountain Healthcare to help better implement the Project Lifesaver program throughout the city and surrounding community with support from Washington City Police Department.

“We have accomplished this through fundraising events and grants, and it has been a blessing to many families that then develop a relationship with the departments and officers who help them, so it’s a good thing all the way around,” Radley said.

Representing the St. George Police Department, Officer Lona Trombley brought the department’s Razor. Kids rode along on the all-terrain vehicle and received candy from a bowl equipped with a mechanical hand from Trombley’s patrol car.

“We are super excited to be here, are handing out candy and giving out high fives and love the opportunity to be a part of this,” Trombley said.

Washington City Fire Department’s new “Pump” engine showcases at the First Responders Car Show Saturday, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 28, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Washington City Fire Department debuted its newest firefighting apparatus at the event, a red and black “pumper” fire engine, which was driven by  Washington City Fire Department engineer Talbot.

The fire truck is designed to carry 1,000 gallons of water in its tank, with the capability of sucking water from an outside source, such as a fire hydrant, drop tank, swimming pool or lake. The state-of-the-art pumper truck came equipped with battery-powered rescue and extrication tools, commonly known as Jaws of Life, and included a spreader, cutter and ram.

The new extrication equipment replaces the original two-part system that consisted of a hydraulic spreader powered by a two-cycle gasoline power unit, and the batteries provide power for a 30-minute rescue operation, enough to rescue people from at least one vehicle.

In a portable kennel at the venue, guests held one of six puppies from the newest litter born at Havoc 9, a program that breeds, trains and donate the furry crime fighters to police departments and law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Ricki Draper said Havoc 9 has donated 14 dogs to police agencies throughout the state so far, which saves each department approximately $15,000 that would have been spent on the purchase and training of the animal. Some of the smaller departments lack the funds needed to purchase a dog, and Havoc 9 makes that purchase possible “because of our amazing volunteers, grants and donations that support the cause,” Draper said.

Hundreds of vintage beauties line the grass at the First Responders Car Show Saturday, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 28, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Atticus, one of the more recent canines placed over the summer, was donated to the Washington City Police Department, and the four-legged law agent is well-trained and on duty.

“Atticus is one of the super-stars in our organization and we sent him to the best place we knew,” she said.

Trooper Austin Ipson represented Utah Highway Patrol in a show of support for the program and to give credit to first responders, he said.

Hurricane Police Officer Steve Johnson said Project Life Saver is a great program, which he has seen first-hand while assisting in searches using the tracking technology that increases the probability of a positive outcome for the victim.

Project Lifesaver

Project Lifesaver was first implemented in Southern Utah in 2015 by the St. George Police Department. Soon after, other agencies in the county came on board, including the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the LaVerkin City and Hurricane City police departments. The Washington City and Santa Clara/Ivins police departments separately enrolled in the program

Project Lifesaver is a proven search and rescue program. It uses a LoJack SafetyNet tracking system designed for at risk populations, reducing the time, funds and manpower needed to locate an individual. More than 1,200 law enforcement agencies nationwide use the system.

A timely response can save lives and reduce the risk of injury for such adults and children who become lost, and the Project Lifesaver system can detect or track an individual who may wander into a shallow body of water, a densely wooded area, a concrete structure such as a garage or a building constructed with steel.

Utilizing the system leads to an average recovery time of less than 30 minutes.

Today, a majority of departments in Washington County have implemented the program, and the proceeds from Saturday’s car show will benefit each department that has a need either for equipment or for tracking bracelets and fees for local residents who are in need of the service.

Editor’s note: The weight listed for the Rotor Wing R-44 helicopter was corrected.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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