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Ambulance donated to Clarkston

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For years, residents of rural Clarkston in Cache County have had a lurking, disconcerting suspicion that their local ambulance looked a lot like a hearse.

A reconditioned 1952 hearse, perhaps, but a hearse nonetheless.Something that not everybody in town prized as a supplemental mode of transportation.

But that all changed Tuesday evening when Draper officials donated a 1987 Ford ambulance they had planned on retiring to the small Cache County town instead.

Clarkston Mayor Mervin Thompson, members of the Town Council and some of the town's emergency medical technicians drove to Draper to accept the vehicle.

Ironically, it will be the newest piece of equipment in the town's small fire and rescue fleet.

Draper City Manager David Campbell said the city put a 1997 Ford 4x4 Ambulance into service last month and has another relatively new ambulance to continue serving the community.

That made the city's old ambulance surplus and available to donate.

"We saw this as an opportunity to help another community," said Campbell, who spotted Clarkston's old hearse/emergency response unit while attending the annual Martin Harris Pageant - Clarkston's primary claim to fame.

He recalled that it wasn't so long ago when Draper was a small community without funds to buy new public safety equipment.

"They were providing tremendous service but had very poor equipment to do it with," Campbell said. "They've been willing to pull themselves up by the bootstraps . . . we're just helping out by giving them some better straps."

Clarkston, about 25 miles northwest of Logan, has an all-volunteer Fire and Rescue Department that is well-staffed with 16 firefighters and eight emergency medical technicians.

But the fire service equipment is all fairly old. It includes two pumper trucks, two brush trucks and a water tanker - the newest piece dates back to 1973, and the oldest unit is a 1950 model.

And the old 1952 hearse-turned-ambulance was one of the oldest vehicles in that aged fleet.

"That's very old in the life of an ambulance," Campbell said. "What they ought to do is put that in a museum. It's an antique."

Clarkston officials said the donated ambulance will help more than just their small community of about 700 people.

It also will respond to emergencies in Trenton and Newton, both seven miles away. The three small communities work together providing emergency fire and medical backup to each other.