Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative representatives in November presented a $23,727 grant check to Hoover Valley Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services for new rescue tools. Pictured are (from left) PEC Public Affairs representative Jared Fields, firefighter Waylon Hibbitts, Capt. Marc Talamantez, LCRA board member Carol Freeman, LCRA Regional Affairs representative Susan Patten, Burnet County Judge James Oakley, Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther Jr. Courtesy photo
Along with matching funds of $8,208, the grant will go toward lighter, stronger, and more versatile rescue tools for the department, which responds to calls across about 25 square-miles of Burnet County, according to an LCRA media release. The new tools will replace an outdated set from 2010 and are waterproof, a welcome feature since the department’s service area includes portions of Lake LBJ and Inks Lake.
Hoover Valley Capt. Marc Talamantez said the department’s decade-old rescue tools must be connected to a motor through long lines because the tools operate via hydraulic pressure. The replacement set will be battery-operated and include a spreader that can pry apart a wrecked vehicle, a cutting tool, and a ram that can extend to 3 feet to help free an accident victim pinned in a vehicle.
“These new tools are going to have the capability of going additional places,” Talamantez said. “We can jump out, push one button, and we’re ready to go. Before, we were limited because we had to start our motorized pump and link up the hoses. It would take four, five minutes to set everything up.
“Now, it’s an instant process since the new tools are battery-operated,” Talamantez continued. “One person can grab one tool and another person can grab another one. We’ll also have three chargers and six batteries, so we’ll have spare batteries that we’re charging all the time.”
As the population grows in Burnet County, Talamantez said the area has seen an increase in motor vehicle accidents. In recent years, calls tied to crashes have increased 10-15 percent annually for Hoover Valley Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services, he said.
The department’s new rescue tools also will aid accident victims who might be far from a roadway, Talamantez said.
“At Inks Lake State Park, there are a lot of hiking trails and a lot of boulders,” he said. “Kids like to get on them and jump around, and sometimes they can roll on somebody. We can use that ram and spreader to get that hiker out, so these new tools are not just for motor vehicle accidents.
“All of our department’s members are really ecstatic to get these new tools,” he said. “Ever since I joined the department, it’s been my goal to better outfit our guys and gals so they can better serve our community.”
This community grant is one of 32 recently awarded through the Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders, and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water, and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. PEC is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program.