Warren Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams, Cairo Fire Chief Zach Foster, volunteer firefighter/EMT Abby Haught, volunteer firefighter EMT Kaelyn McKenna, volunteer Capt. Noah Leasure and volunteer firefighter Maddy Shaffer stand with the Type III ambulance donated by the city of Warren.

Warren Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams, Cairo Fire Chief Zach Foster, volunteer firefighter/EMT Abby Haught, volunteer firefighter EMT Kaelyn McKenna, volunteer Capt. Noah Leasure and volunteer firefighter Maddy Shaffer stand with the Type III ambulance donated by the city of Warren.

Photo by Brian Louwers


Warren ambulance gifted to rural West Virginia fire department

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published September 20, 2021

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WARREN — An out-of-service ambulance that saw years of heavy use on the streets of Warren is heading to rural West Virginia.

But it won’t be for retirement. It’ll be refitted and put back into service by volunteer firefighters and paramedics in the town of Cairo, in the north central part of the state.

“This probably was going to wind up as scrap, another hunk of metal and plastic,” Warren Fire Commissioner Skip McAdams said on Sept. 8. “For this it gets another five, 10 yeast of life in their community as an asset, and she deserves to be an asset as long as she can.”

Cairo Fire Chief Zach Foster said the department’s 20 volunteers serve a population of 382 in the city and about 2,500 total in the area. The department is dispatched to about 200 runs a year over an area of 50 square miles, 85% of which require an emergency medical response.

The department’s apparatus fleet consists of five vehicles: a 30-year-old main engine, a tanker, a medical rescue pickup truck, a brush truck and a reserve tanker. With an annual budget of about $30,000, Foster said raising funds to purchase an ambulance has been a challenge.

“We started a GoFundMe about two years ago, and it just didn’t go,” Foster said.

He said they had tried more traditional fundraisers like raffles and dinners with limited success.

“We’re just a small, rural community, a lot of poverty,” Foster said. “Our community does what they can, when they can. They’re extremely supportive and we’re extremely lucky. With the equipment and the insurance and all the bills that come with it, it just doesn’t go far.”

Foster said “complete luck” struck when visitors in town met with volunteer firefighters during an emergency response. That created the connection back to Warren.

“It’s amazing that this ever happened,” Foster said. “The last time our community had an ambulance was 40 years ago, ran out of the funeral home.

“Our community, what they’re going to get out of this is just, I can’t even explain it. What our department is going to do with this is just beyond imagination, really.  It really can’t be explained how much this is going to benefit us.”

Foster and his team visited Warren on Sept. 8 where they met with McAdams and Warren Mayor Jim Fouts. The team from Cairo planned to drive the ambulance back the same day, a roughly 5 1/2-hour trip back to the city, about 35 miles from the Ohio River.

“It will be a fantastic retirement home, that’s for sure,” Foster said.

He added, “We’re so appreciative, and thank you doesn’t do it justice.”

“I think it’s a great thing to do. Cairo, West Virginia, is a small community,” Fouts said. “I think it’s also a nice idea where a large city can contribute to help out a smaller city.

“Clearly, this is going to save lives,” Fouts said.

McAdams said the EMS transport rig was purchased by the city after the 2014 flood. He said the Type III ambulance would have cost about $190,000 new from the manufacturer before it was fitted with equipment for the Warren Fire Department.

Warren Public Service Director Gus Ghanam said the approximate scrap value of the vehicle is $4,000 to $7,000.

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