Featherlite gives Colchester Technical Rescue Team mobility and capacity in one vehicle

The Colchester Technical Rescue team's new state Urban Search & Rescue vehicle had to fulfill two conflicting requirements. "We need to be pretty dynamic with a lot of things we do, because when we're called to respond, someone's drowning or stuck somewhere," Mike Cannon, team leader for Colchester Technical Rescue and co-state coordinator for Vermont's Urban Search and Rescue Program, said. "We wanted a vehicle that could be mobile, but we also needed enough capacity to carry our stuff."

The "stuff" in question is equipment. Lots of equipment to aid in people trapped in confined spaces, such as building collapses, according to Cannon. This includes acoustic listening devices, technical search cameras, logistical equipment, heating equipment and an AC unit for shelters.

Their solution? A custom Featherlite trailer and matching truck bed.

The emergency response trailer stores most of the equipment. It also contains working spaces for three or four laptops with printers and a hardwire cable system so the trailer can hook into a phone line. The trailer also hosts a complete radio system. "We could go to a natural disaster area, set up all our communications and logistical devices, and be able to be self-sufficient for 72 hours," Cannon said.

After the Colchester Technical Rescue team had researched several emergency vehicle manufacturers, they selected Featherlite. "You guys have been in business for a while, and you build trailers," Cannon explained. "Some other guys manufacture emergency equipment exclusively, but we knew we wanted a trailer, we needed a tow vehicle and we needed a manufacturer who could match both of them."

The team was impressed by how willing Featherlite Specialty Sales Manager Mark Ackley was to go the extra mile during the design process. "We had actually measured and photographed every piece of equipment that needed to go into our trailer. It was an eye-opener for Mark to come out personally and see what we had," he said. "We showed Mark the original trailer, and we traded designs back and forth until we got to one that worked for us."

When the plans were complete, Featherlite swung into action. Not only did they build the emergency response trailer, they also purchased an appropriate tow vehicle. Featherlite then constructed a custom-made truck bed with storage and tow capacity. (shown in photos)

Once the Colchester Technical Rescue team received their new Featherlite, they were also impressed with the ride they got. "This trailer hauls well—you can drive this thing at 55 MPH down a back road and it handles incredible," Cannon said. "You guys knew what you were doing when you matched the vehicles."

Cannon also appreciates the storage capacity of the truck bed and trailer. "We need not hook anything else up, we need not take another vehicle," Cannon said. "It's made life easier for us. We can also use the tow vehicle as a quick response vehicle if the gooseneck can't be used."

The Colchester Technical Rescue team aren't the only ones who like their trailer and truck bed combo. "The other state Urban Search and Rescue team is impressed with it too," Cannon said. "Both teams were given the same amount of money, and the other team bought a walk-in heavy duty rescue truck. They can't carry nearly the amount of gear we can. They have to bring another trailer with them when they go out, while we just bring our trailer and truck. The other state coordinator told me, ‘We probably should have gone with a trailer.'"

The Featherlite's performance has definitely made the Colchester Technical Rescue team want to work with Featherlite again. Cannon and Ackley have been talking, and another Featherlite may be helping the Colchester Technical Rescue team in the future.

For more information on how to put an emergency response specialty trailer to work for your company or organization, call Featherlite Specialty Sales at 800-800-1230 or contact Featherlite Specialty Trailers.