(L to R) Front: Tahlequah Firefighter Arron Garrett and Cherokee Nation Marshal Service Captain Danny Tanner prepare the raft to take Jessie Frost, 77, across the creek to EMS. Back: CNMS Sergeant Joe Rainwater, Marshal Shannon Buhl and Sergeant Faron Pritchett help load Frost safely into the raft.
PARK HILL, OKLAHOMA — Cherokee Nation marshals used their surplus military vehicles in a rescue for the first time Monday after an elder was trapped at home from flooding and couldn’t get to his dialysis treatment.
Jessie Frost, 77, a Cherokee Nation citizen who lives in Tahlequah, and his caretaker had to call Cherokee Nation 911 Monday when the road leading to his neighborhood was covered by more than 3 feet of creek water and couldn’t get a car through. Frost requires regular dialysis for his diabetes.
“Without the marshals’ vehicles, we wouldn’t have been able to get out,” Frost said. “It’s a wonderful thing they did, and we really appreciate it.”
Cherokee Nation marshals used their surplus military vehicles to drive through the flooded roadway to reach Frost late Monday. The marshals used a raft to wade across another patch of flooded roadway where Cherokee Nation EMS awaited to take Frost for treatment.
Frost’s neighborhood is near Sequoyah Club, near the banks of the Illinois River.
In early 2014, Cherokee Nation marshals secured two military grade vehicles to assist in searches and rescues. The 15-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles were part of a program that donates excess military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies at no cost.
The surplus U.S. Department of Defense vehicles, valued at half a million dollars each, are not armed and are needed by marshals to reach citizens trapped by ice, flooding or tornado debris. A severe winter storm in December 2014 kept ambulances from reaching eight Cherokee citizens trapped by icy hills.
“We brought our two MRAPs out, and with the help of Falcon Floats, who brought a raft, we were able to get Mr. Frost and his caregiver out of the house and into the hands of EMS,” Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “It’s good to be able to use equipment that some may deem militaristic to save people’s lives. That’s why we got them and are now putting them to great use to rescue our citizens who need help.”
Tahlequah Fire Department also assisted in the rescue effort.