Two years ago, Emergency Management Director Mike Smith began working on a medical trailer for use in large incidents, like bus accidents or tornadoes.
The idea attracted donations from several oilfield companies, and the trailer is now a reality. Williams County expects to receive it within the next week.
The focus of Smith’s effort has now shifted to a second phase, and that is funds for a flatbed crew cab truck to haul the trailer wherever it is needed.
The truck will cost an estimated $55,000, not including necessary add-ons such as radios, and it just got its first big donation on Thursday, Oct. 24, from Dakota Access Pipeline.
Representatives of Dakota Access were in the Oil Patch Thursday afternoon, making a series of donations to each Emergency Management Agency in all seven of the counties that lie along its route.
Donations Thursday included Mckenzie, Mountrail, and Dunn counties, in addition to Williams.
This is the second donation Dakota Access has made to Williams County. The first went toward the purchase of the medical trailer. Donations for the trailer were also received from Hess, Oasis, and Burlington Northern.
Smith told the Williston Herald the medical incident trailer will be useful in large incidents where large numbers of people have been injured, beyond the normal capacity of county ambulances.
Williams County has 14 ambulances in all, but at any one time, there are generally five available. Others might be tied up in long-distance transports, as an example. A large incident could thus easily overwhelm the available transport capacity at a moment when time is of the essence.
The trailer would bring all the emergency medical supplies an ambulance would have to the scene itself, allowing emergency medical service personnel to treat people immediately on scene, while available ambulances are meanwhile transporting the most critical patients first.
The trailer could also be staged at large events like Band Day and the Chokecherry Festival, providing a first-aid station for minor injuries and a climate-controlled rest area for the event. Having the trailer on site would also mean that if anything did happen, critical medical supplies are already on location for immediate, life-saving assistance.
“The importance of having this is to make sure we are ready and have the ability to help the public in times of disaster,” Smith said.
The trailer might also be available to regionally to areas outside Williams County, if requested for mutual aid requests.
In all, $140,000 in contributions will be made to the seven North Dakota Emergency Management agencies. The donation was not designated to any particular need. Each agency may use it for whatever is most needed.
McKenzie County Emergency Management Director Karolin Jappe told the Williston Herald on Friday that she has already allocated the grant to the Grassy Butte Fire Department, to help it achieve its goal of purchasing extrication equipment and training personnel to use it.
“It is my goal to see them get that equipment,” Jappe said. “They want to take their fire department to the next level, and I just applaud them for that.”
Jappe said in the past wrecks needing extrication equipment have called on mutual aid agreements, but, with a four-lane highway planned to pass through that area, they decided it was time to gain the ability for themselves.
“What if something happens and Watford City is already using their equipment?” Jappe said. “When you have someone pinned in a car or truck, every minute counts.”
Jappe estimated they will need about $15,000 more in donations to procure the specialized protective gear firefighters need to wear while using the extrication equipment.
“The fire chief (Lee Geiger) and I are working on raising the rest of the money,” Jappe said. “It’s probably about $1,000 per guy to get them in the right PP and E.”
Geiger, meanwhile, pointed out that the Grassy Butte Fire Department is all volunteer, and that 80 percent of the territory in its district is government forest land.
“This donation basically doubles our budget for the year, which will allow us to purchase extrication equipment,” he said in a medial release.
Mountrail County Sheriff Corey Bristol meanwhile told the Williston Herald that Mountrail’s $20,000 grant would be used to enhance Emergency Operations Center.
Dakota Access is also making similar donations to counties in other states, totaling $1 million across 50 counties in the four states Dakota Access traverses, which are North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
“Dakota Access is committed to being a good neighbor, a good business partner, and a valued member of North Dakota communities,” a media release stated.