The Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department is now tasked with doing highway rescue basically for the entire Similkameen Valley since the road rescue truck belonging to Princeton Highway Rescue was involved in a collision Jan. 19.
Keremeos fire chief Jordy Bosscha said response will be on a call-by-call basis with some guidelines in place.
He said if a collision requiring extrication happens between the boundary of the department’s traditional coverage area, west of Hedley, and Princeton the road rescue truck along with four members will attend. If help is needed west of Princeton towards Manning Park or north headed towards Tulameen or Merritt, the road rescue truck with two members will attend.
“Princeton will come out and meet us. If they get their first we’ll let them use our tools and provide assistance to them,” Bosscha said.
The coverage area for the department has beee temporarily doubled if not tripled in size. Bosscha said if collisions occur in the Upper Similkameen that require Keremeos’ help, mutual aid will be called in to have members from Kaleden or Osooyos ready if something happens closer to home.
“What we don’t want to see is no one here if something happens in our area, so we’ll use mutual aid to ensure there are people that can cover. It might be difficult in the middle of the day or night when people are working or might not be available, but we’re going to make it work,” he said.
At press time Keremeos had only been called out to one collision out of area. The collision occurred the same day the Princeton truck was damaged on Jan. 19.
The collision occurred on Highway 3 near Wolf Creek around 9 p.m. when a Ford Explorer slid off the road and hit a hydro pole, cutting the pole in half. The driver was uninjured, but the passenger a 22-year-old Princeton woman sustained serious injuries.
“That’s the only one so far. January is generally a slower month for us. On average we only have a about four call outs the entire month. So far this year we’ve had seven,” he said.
It’s unclear when Princeton Highway Rescue might have a new truck.
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Bosscha said the truck isn’t just a regular truck. so it’s not easy to replace.
“It’s equipped with all the gear, the flashing lights, it’s up to code,” he said. “It’s not just about throwing the gear in a pickup truck and away you go.”
Bosscha said there are talks underway to possibly lease the Keremeos bush truck until Princeton can buy a new truck.
Princeton Highway Rescue bought the $134,000 F-550 truck in 2013 after a five-year fundraising campaign.
Hope will also be helping do highway rescue when applicable mostly in the Manning Park and east towards Princeton area.