When a Kenai Fire Department ambulance and a moose tangled Jan. 15, it was the end of the road for the moose. But the ambulance is back up and running, as good as new.
"It's 100 percent back in service," said Assistant Fire Chief Scott Walden.
The ambulance was headed to Central Peninsula General Hospital to pick up an airlift team. Nearing the crest of a hill at approximately Mile 4 of the Kenai Spur Highway, the driver noticed the headlights of an oncoming car swerve. Taking that as a warning, the driver slowed the ambulance. As it passed the headlights of the other vehicle, the ambulance came face to face with the cause -- a moose.
When the fur quit flying, the ambulance was suffering from damage to the grill, hood, front right quarter panel and the patient compartment. Mechanical damage also occurred where the radiator and fan were pushed into the engine.
No injuries were sustained by those in the ambulance. However, the moose wasn't so fortunate.
With the ambulance sidelined, a second one filled in. And an automatic aid agreement between the Kenai and Nikiski fire departments and Central Emergency Services ensured no loss of service.
"We help each other back and forth all the time," said Walden.
Nikiski Fire Chief Billy Harris said the automatic aid agreement means support is provided for every fire call. For ambulance calls, assistance is provided as requested.
"When they call, we come running," he said. "When we call, they come running."
Besides Kenai and Nikiski, CES also has agreements to provide backup for Cooper Landing and Ninilchik.
"The most common use of the agreement is to respond to multiple calls in progress," said CES Assistant Chief Steve O'Connor. "When they're overwhelmed or have several small incidents, that's when we can help each other."
Walden said Kenai only requested help once while the ambulance was out of commission.
"That particular incident was a multiple-car incident," he said. "We would have had to call (for help) no matter what, because of the quantity of patients."
Walden also said the hard-working crew at the city shop deserves credit for getting the ambulance back into service.
"They're fast, they're efficient and they don't seem to make mistakes. Those guys are mechanics from heaven," Walden said, referring to foreman Mike Wichman, Joe Rodriguez and Bill Lopeman.
"They take care of the whole city -- everything from weed eaters to city vacuum trucks."
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