UTV vehicles more versatile, easier to handle than snowmobiles
The Park City Fire District is unveiling a new piece of equipment this winter.
The PCFD will start deploying a new, Utility Task Vehicle, or UTV, for backcountry rescues, moving away from the use of snowmobiles. It is now one of two UTV vehicles available for use by public safety agencies in Summit County. The North Summit Fire District has the other.
The street-legal tracker vehicle has chains on the tires, a heated cab, and a fire suppression system. The UTVs will eventually replace the use of the snowmobiles due to their versatility on all types of terrain, NSFD Chief Ken Smith said.
“When we started looking for a snowmobile alternative, we found that the UTVs will pretty much go anywhere that a snowmobile can,” Smith said. “And the training and learning curve is much more intuitive because it drives like a vehicle.”
The 5-seat UTV, which cost the fire district approximately $20,000, was purchased last spring to be deployed anywhere in the county.
“Because the UTV is capable to drive on pretty much any terrain, we think we will get a lot more use out of them than snowmobiles,” Battalion Chief Eric Hales said.
Hales said the UTV vehicle can access remote lightning strike locations and was used during the brush and wildfire season this summer.
The setup of the UTV vehicles will change how a patient is cared for during rescue evacuations, Hale said, because it allows treatment to begin during transportation.
“We can put an EMT on the UTV that can actually care for the patient while they are evacuating,” Hales said.
Officials with both districts said the vehicles should last around seven years.
The fire districts began participating in backcountry rescues in early 2000. The districts has access to mountain bikes, motorcycles and ATVs for evacuating patients from the mountain.
The first UTV vehicle the NSFD had in its fleet was primarily used during the Olympics to transport patients, Hales said.
But with a new one available, “people will start seeing it more and more this winter,” Hales said.
“I think it is a more stable way to transport and that’s the beauty of this UTV with the tracks, we can go on any terrain,” Hales said.