It is no secret that in an emergency situation, mere seconds cans save lives. This small town company had a big idea for a custom-built water rescue trailer that can help improve emergency response time and efficiency, ultimately saving lives.
In 1985 Ron Jay entered the trailer business as a reseller of trailers that were purchased from different manufacturers. He named his business Paxton Trailer and Supply after his home town of Paxton, Nebraska whose current population is 612. In 1991 a friend of his was looking for a double deck trailer and talked Ron into building one for him. He was able to find a trailer pattern and reproduce it. This was the beginning of his involvement in the trailer business as a fabricator. Since then he has changed his company’s name to Sport Trailers, Inc. and his son, Travis has joined him in his endeavors. Many changes have also been made to improve and customize the original pattern. The carrying capacity and size keeps getting bigger, and more options are offered. Sports Trailers, Inc. now offers options such as LED lights, hydraulic brakes, wireless operations, electric jacks and winches, sleeker wheels with better tyres, and better finishes such as powder coat or galvanisation. Since 1991, Sport Trailers has built over 400 stacker trailers and more than 1,000 small to large custom trailers. Sport Trailers prides itself on the fact that it custom builds its trailers for the customer, not for the mass market.
Ron and Travis believe in building a relationship with their customers. This mindset is what led to the development of the E-Z Water Rescue Trailer. Each customer comes to them with unique needs and various combinations of equipment loads that they need to haul. No two trailers that they have built have been exactly the same and they enjoy this challenge and attention to detail. Over the years Sport Trailers had several calls asking if they built rescue trailers. However, it was the Osawatomie Fire Department in Kansas that finally got the ball rolling. They were willing to work closely with Sport trailers to develop the unit. Ron was excited about this new idea, “We had professionals that had ‘been there and done it’ to help with the design. You just can’t beat experience.” The first responders described what it was that they were looking for. Sports Trailers was able to accommodate their needs and design the trailer making many changes along the way to come up with a unit that is safe, quick and easy to use.
The Osawatomie Fire Department services approximately 100 square miles of territory situated in eastern Kansas, south of Kansas City. This area is home to several lakes, reservoirs and rivers. The department had been searching online for a water rescue trailer that could streamline their water rescue efforts. Brian Mersman is the deputy chief of the Osawatomie Fire department. He said, “We chose this trailer because Ron and his company were the only company that could build the trailer exactly how we wanted it.” The department was looking for a single trailer that could transport two boats. This would help with their limited storage space as well as their efficiency in responding to a water rescue call. Often the situation is unclear until a first responder has had time to visually assess the situation upon arrival at the site, making it hard to prepare at a moment’s notice. Therefore, they also needed a trailer that would allow them to remove either boat first, depending on the situation that they were faced with. Sport Trailers set to work in creating the trailer that they needed.
The result of this joint effort was the creation of the efficient and time saving E-Z Water Rescue Trailer. This double deck trailer has a low profile transport mode. Its compact design allows for two boats to be transported with one vehicle, freeing up another rescue worker to prepare for the situation in transit. These details can be vital when faced with a situation where seconds can save lives. The rescue trailer is powered by a 12 volt hydraulic system which raises and lowers the top deck of the trailer. This deck can accommodate a boat, personal water crafts, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, etc. Ramps are provided to assist with loading and unloading. With the top deck in the down position, cargo can be loaded. Using the hydraulic system, this deck is raised and locked into place. Then the lower deck is ready to be loaded. Either deck can be unloaded first, giving first responders options when they are faced with an unexpected scenario.
The rescue trailer has many features that are standard, top quality features of Sport Trailers, and many that were added as a result of the collaboration with Osawatomie Fire Department. The rescue trailer has a low profile to accommodate the doors of the fire department and to allow for easier access to bodies of water that are surrounded by trees and brush. Cargo can be loaded and unloaded with ease. It also features 3 meter door access, remote cordless operation, torsion axles, powder coat finish, custom wheels, a tool box, enclosed wiring and lighting, tubing frame and an electric jack. The finished trailer was also outfitted with Racks for gas, air tanks, life vests and LED emergency lights and signals. The standard size of the E-Z Water Rescue Trailer is 2.6 meters wide by 7.6 meters long. It has 1587 kilogram torflex axles, 38 centimeter radial tires, two 0.8 centimeter couplers and safety chains. The trailer also meets all safety guidelines for the Department of Transportation and comes with a manufacturer’s statement of origin.
According to Deputy Chief Brian Mersman of the Osawatomie Fire Department, the finished trailer has served its purpose perfectly and become an integral part of their emergency response plan. The trailer has been used in at least four water rescues to date. One of the rescues included a drowning victim at a lake. The situation called for the department’s lake boat to be deployed into the water and the rescue boat to be deployed onto the beach so that they could search the swimming area. They were able to deploy the rescue boat onto land with as much ease as if they were deploying it into the water. Deputy Chief Mersman says, “This trailer helps our response time greatly because we can deploy either boat without taking the other one off. For example, if we need the rescue boat off the top, we do not have to spend any time getting the bottom boat off first. We can take either boat off by itself, possibly saving us the few extra minutes we need to get our victim. I would highly recommend this trailer for any water rescue team as it can save time and increase efficiency.”
Other trailer companies were able to promise the Osawatomie Fire Department that they would be able to unload the bottom boat “in a matter of minutes” and then have access to the top boat, but this was unacceptable to them. They kept searching and found Sport Trailers, Inc. “Ron and his company were the only trailer company that was able to build it so that we could deploy the top boat without taking the bottom one off first. I believe this is the first trailer like this to be built and it came out just like we expected.” There are other companies who have made units to transport different toys and tools, but as far as Ron Jay knows Sport Trailers, Inc. is the only one that custom builds this equipment on a regular and routine basis.
This article was co authored by Elizabeth Gleason and Ron Jay
For more information, go to www.sporttrailersinc.com