The Rocky Point Fire District’s only ambulance was found inoperable last week and the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is investigating if someone maliciously damaged the emergency vehicle.
Volunteer crews discovered the damage after they were dispatched April 8 to a call for service and the rig’s engine would not start. An EMT on scene at the emergency was forced to provide medical services while waiting for an ambulance to arrive from Klamath Falls, about 30 minutes away.
The ambulance was towed and a mechanic on Monday found the engine had been maliciously damaged. Klamath County Fire District 4 loaned Rocky Point an ambulance through the weekend, and the department is now borrowing a vehicle from Basin Ambulance in order to continue to provide medical services in the Rocky Point area, according to Chief Diann Walker-Pope.
Walker-Pope said she had no idea why someone would try to sabotage medical services in the community, calling the crime “horrible” and “deplorable.”
She is waiting for an estimate from the mechanic to replace the engine to determine what the district will do about its ambulance.
The ambulance was kept inside a bay at the fire station, and there were no signs of a break in, according to Walker-Pope.
Jay Williams, the department’s medical director, noted the possible consequences the damage could have caused if someone was in need of emergency attention, or if the rig died while transporting a patient in need.
“When I think about the damage that could have happened, I would like to think that whoever did it wasn’t planning attempted murder, which is what I think that would be tantamount to,” Williams said. “Because if you had somebody in cardiac arrest or a sick child that wasn’t breathing on their own, and all of the sudden we’re in an ambulance that was rendered inoperable en route to the hospital, you know I can’t even imagine what would have happened ... well actually I can imagine ... that person very well could have died.”
Williams also noted the impact a crime like this has on a rural fire district like Rocky Point, which has only one ambulance.
“Resources are already spread super thin in departments like this but communities like Rocky Point, Chiloquin, Beatty, Bonanza ... all these places have very limited resources and typically run on a skeleton crew of volunteers,” Williams said. “And these are people who volunteer their free time to try and benefit the local community.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office tip line at 541-850-5380.