Community members and leaders gathered at the Jackson Township Fire Department Wednesday evening to see new recruits sworn in and the department’s new ambulance blessed and brought officially into service.
The ambulance was blessed by Deacon John Etter of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Cicero, after which it was ceremonially pushed into the garage.
“The history of the ceremonial push in started out of necessity back in the horse drawn apparatus days,” said Firefighter/Paramedic Sean Dayton. “The apparatuses were extremely difficult to back in with the horses, so the volunteers would have to back the apparatus into the bays by hand. When a new apparatus was purchased it became a big event for the community and often included days of festivities.”
Jackson Township Fire Chief Jeff Muszar told The Reporter that while this ceremony began exclusively as something done with fire engines, as modern fire departments include ambulance services, this ceremony has also evolved to include these emergency response vehicles.
“The push in was kept ceremoniously because it demonstrates the unity amongst the members of the department,” Dayton said.
Chief Muszar said his department decided they wanted to carry on the old tradition. He also said this new ambulance and the recent trio of full-time hires are a benefit to everyone in the township.
“As we looked at Jackson Township and as it grows, we felt the need,” Muszar said. “When you look at the northern half of Hamilton County there are not a lot of transporting ambulances. Then we looked at the needs of a growing Jackson Township which is nearly 55 square miles. It was time to have another ambulance in place for the taxpayers. There are many times when a call will come in while our ambulance is already out on a call, so we have to depend on Cicero, Sheridan or Noblesville to come up. Many times, Cicero would also be on a run when we needed assistance.”
Jackson Township Trustee Christina (Chris) Miller spoke of this ambulance as a benefit to both Cicero and Jackson Township’s fire departments. “We are two departments, but we work as one,” Miller said, “because when you’re little you need help from your buddies.”
This new ambulance is now the primary vehicle for emergency medical calls, but the other vehicle is staying in service. This brings the Jackson Township Fire Department fleet to seven vehicles: one engine, two ambulances, one tanker and one grass rig plus two administrative vehicles.
“We can staff both ambulances with paramedics,” Muszar explained. “Everyone is trained at an EMT level. Every shift is staffed with both firefighter paramedics and firefighter EMTs.”
Chief Muszar is also trained as a paramedic and capable of responding within the community to provide non-transporting help when needed.
A lot of the difference in this new ambulance is technology.
“The big push was safety,” Muszar said. “The cameras can see 360 degrees around that ambulance. That is significant when you are transporting someone’s family member and their life is in the back of that ambulance. The other major safety factor is the impact protection system in the back for the patient compartment. If there is an impact, air bags will inflate into the entire patient compartment to protect the patient and paramedic.”
Other safety features include more communications options and mobile safety harnesses.
“In most ambulances you have a radio to talk to the hospital that is often on the opposite side from the paramedic,” Muszar told The Reporter. “We added the capability to talk to the hospital on both sides of the ambulance – on the patent’s right and left. The paramedic is also harnessed in with a sliding harness, so he can slide from head to toe with that patient and treat the patient while being harnessed and protected. The patient is also harnessed in the cot.”
Chief Muszar wanted to remind the community that his department is a family.
“When I began chief in May I emphasized that I want our family serving your family,” Muszar told The Reporter. “That has been my mission statement for Jackson Township Fire. We feel that this is a way that our family is better serving your family by providing additional mean to get your family to a hospital quickly when time is of the essence.”
The 2017 Horton four-wheel-drive ambulance was officially brought into service at 6:04 p.m.
Reporter photos by Stu Clampitt