Jefferson County Emergency Manager Rebecca Squires received approval from commissioners Feb. 8 to move forward in purchasing a Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) that would be shared between all Jefferson County Response Units.

The money would come through the State Homeland Security Program Grant through the US Dept. of Homeland Security. The county receives funding from this grant every year. For 2021, Jefferson has been allocated $50,329 for various homeland security projects according to Squires.

The purchase of the UTV will be just one of several projects that the county will be using the grant for. Squires presented three quotes on UTV from Rexburg Motor Sports for $12,743.98, Action Motor Sports in Idaho Falls for $14,099 and Let’s Ride from Heyburn for $16,040.

“This UTV would be used for backcountry rescues and we have seen an increased need for it,” said Central Fire District Chief Carl Anderson. “There’s more people recreating in the Heise area and in the backcountry in general and that’s resulted in more calls for rescue in those areas.”

Anderson said they’ve had to borrow UTVs from people in order to get gear to rescues and having their own UTV would assist in not only responding to calls in hard-to-reach areas but also in extracting those injured in backcountry accidents by being able to attach a stretcher to the back.

He also stated that UTVs can be utilized to get around wildland fires and Anderson hopes they’ll be able to get authorization to purchase the UTV sooner rather than later.

Squires said that with state paperwork, it may take a few weeks for them to be approved for the purchase. If approved, the UTV will be stored at the CFD offices in Rigby and access to it would be available to the Sheriff’s office as well as CFD.