HICKORY, N.C. — Catawba County officials voted Monday night to approve over $433,000 toward the purchase of equipment used by emergency personnel during water rescues.
The money would come from a fund created for public safety projects.
Note: The attached video aired prior to the vote on Monday.
Officials hope the purchases will better serve the community.
"Based on our need and our risk profile for the county, we just realized we did not have enough resources," Mark Pettit, the assistant emergency services manager for Catawba County said.
The equipment would go to three fire departments:
- Hickory Fire Department: $210,628 for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment, motorized inflatable rafts, associated swift water rescue equipment, and half the cost (split with the City of Hickory) of a motorized vessel and associated equipment for surface water rescue.
- Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire-Rescue: $109,421 for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment, motorized inflatable rafts and associated swift water rescue equipment.
- Newton Fire Department: $113,404 for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment, motorized inflatable rafts and associated swift water rescue equipment.
Over these last five years, there were 13 weather events that led to 47 calls for water rescues, according to officials. Officials said they haven’t had enough equipment when responding to calls, which could include washed-out bridges, flooded streets, and rescues.
To supplement their coverage and equipment, Catawba County has often had to rely on other agencies from other counties to help.
“The swift water boats, and the engines that go on them, are design to function in that environment," Pettit said. "There’s so much that’s unpredictable in the situation. One small mistake can cost lives."