, Newburyport, MA

February 12, 2013

Silverados to the rescue

Police hop in trucks for storm, courtesy of Amesbury Chevrolet

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — The emergency call came Saturday morning as snow continued to fall at a rapid clip: A pregnant woman was having a medical emergency and needed help immediately.

More than a foot of snow had already accumulated on Lincoln Court, the narrow way off Main Street where the woman lived, making it unlikely the police department’s rear-wheel Crown Victoria cruisers could navigate through the piles.

Thankfully for all those involved, the responding police supervisor wasn’t driving his cruiser, but rather one of two all-wheel drive Silverado trucks loaned to the department by Amesbury Chevrolet specifically for the storm.

Officers arrived just after an ambulance crew, and everyone involved was able to transport the woman to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport for treatment.

“It took a four-wheel drive to get to her and it was great cooperation between departments,” Deputy fire Chief David Mather said yesterday.

The idea of loaning the new four-door crew cab trucks to the Police Department came from Amesbury Chevrolet President Brian Fecteau, who called Chief Mark Gagnon Friday morning asking if he was in need of a truck or two.

Police officers used the trucks to respond to multiple calls during the storm, making at least two arrests and diffusing potentially dangerous domestic issues with the aid of the all-wheel drive vehicles.

Just prior to the storm hitting, Gagnon said he and second-in command Lt. Kevin Ouellet discussed how to best employ the department’s two existing 4-by-4 vehicles, a command SUV operated by Ouellet and a 2005 Chevy Blazer formerly operated by retired Chief Michael Cronin.

As back-up, Gagnon reached out to fire Chief Jonathan Brickett, wondering if he might be able to lend him one of his four-wheel drive SUVs. But at the same time, he expressed concern about taking away a resource from the fire department.

“It still became a little iffy,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon’s problems were solved when he received Fecteau’s phone call.

“Which turned out to be huge for us,” the police chief said.

Since the Route 110 car dealership opened, it has become an important part of the community, Gagnon said. He pointed to the success of the recent “Be A Buddy, Not A Bully” campaign in which Fecteau played a vital part.

Fecteau said yesterday that reaching out to the police department was a no-brainer.

“I don’t think it was that generous, honestly. I have 100 trucks here collecting snow. Pretty much when you’re part of the community, you have to do your part,” Fecteau said.

Gagnon said they put about 200 miles on the trucks between picking them up Friday and returning them Sunday. And except for gasoline, the trucks didn’t cost taxpayers a cent.

“Kudos to Amesbury Chevrolet is right,” Gagnon said.

Asked if he could see the department asking Amesbury Chevrolet for the use of their trucks in the future, Gagnon said that conversation would take place, adding it might make more sense to accept the generosity of a community partner rather than purchasing new four-wheel drive vehicles only to use them sporadically.