|Updated: 2/07 5:16 pm
||Published: 2/07 3:37 pm
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - The Cherokee Nation now has a new tool to help people when severe weather strikes.
Some Cherokee citizens live in pretty rural, hard-to-reach areas and after the first snow storm this past December, Cherokee marshals had a tough time getting to some of them that needed to go to dialysis.
“Ice-covered hills is very difficult for them to get out on and their family to get to them to help them. It would make it very difficult for an ambulance to even get to some of these places,” said Lt. Mike Roach with the Cherokee Nation Marshall Service.
So the Cherokee Nation got an armored vehicle. “Truly, it will be an ambulance on steroids,” said Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
Valued at more than half a million dollars, the Cherokee Nation didn’t pay a penny.
It has 2-inch thick steel designed to withstand roadside bombs, certainly capable of navigating through debris in ice storms or after tornadoes.
“This vehicle will go over some pretty big stuff and it’s nothing. It’s like a pothole to a normal vehicle,” said Baker.
“(The vehicle can) ford water up to 36 inches, so in most disaster situations we could get to the people that we need to get to, to either evacuate them out or take supplies in,” said Roach.
It will be equipped with defibrillators and gurneys, and will have ramps for wheelchairs. And since seeing this rumbling into town can be intimidating they’re planning a few changes.
“Repainting to a white, and maybe a Red Cross and Cherokee Nation seal on it,” said Baker.
Crews still have to do quite a bit of training, so they won’t be able to use it until March, but it will be ready for tornado season.
They’re also planning on getting two more armored vehicles, both a little smaller, so they can cover more ground in a disaster.