Next up for Collision Students: A Humvee ambulance

The Humvee arrives on campus

An impressive vehicle

As they stood outside of the Collision Technology garage students marveled at the large green vehicle parked there.

“Can I drive it?” one student asked.

“No,” teacher Paul Casagrande responded matter-of-factly.

It would be Mr. Casagrande who drove the vehicle a few feet into the garage, after enough air had been let out of the tires so it would fit inside.

It will be the students, however, who do the exterior work of transitioning the Humvee ambulance from a military-grade one to one that will be used by the City of Rye Police Department.

“It’s awesome, I want one,” Mr. Casagrande said echoing some of the comment’s students had made upon first seeing it.

This is the second project the collision technology students have undertaken for the Rye Police. Last year they finished painting a Chevy Tahoe in the black and white colors of the Rye police fleet. That vehicle was slated to be used for the department’s Auxiliary Police Unit.

“The students worked on the vehicle last year and did a terrific job,” Lt. Scott Craig of the Rye Police Department said. “When we picked up that vehicle, we told Paul (Casagrande) about the other vehicles we had through the program and thought it would be a great opportunity to tackle a Humvee.”

Like that first vehicle, the Humvee was obtained through the Law Enforcement Support Office, or LESO 1033 program, which enables law enforcement departments to obtain military surplus vehicles for their fleet.

The 2012 Military Humvee, which had been deployed as an active duty ambulance, was brought to campus on the back of a tow truck. The plan is for students to sand, scuff, clean and paint the vehicle. They will work on the exterior only, painting it all black. They will leave the bright red crosses on the sides, back and roof of the Humvee as a nod to the vehicle’s former use as an ambulance.

The Rye Police Department plans to use the Humvee in emergencies, such as extreme flooding situations, Lt. Craig said.

“The fact that we are a coastline community, when a major storm or hurricane hits, we are prone to flooding and a vehicle like this will allow us to get through deep water to help in rescue operations and transports,” he said.

“It’s bigger and more exciting,” Mr. Casagrande said of this project, compared to the previous one with the Rye Police Department. “The students are buzzing all over it,” he noted, watching as students looked the vehicle over, both inside and out, and made comments about how “cool” the Humvee is.

Lt. Craig also noticed how excited the students are when working on these types of projects.

“The excitement we see from the students when we drop the vehicles off and the pride they have when we pick up the vehicle speaks volumes,” he said.

“It allows the students the opportunity to work on vehicles that they would not normally have access to, it allows us to have vehicles added to our police fleet with the proper identifying color scheme and lastly it gives us an opportunity for police officers and students to bond over a common interest,” Lt. Craig continued.

There was a lot of buzz when the Humvee arrived on campus on Jan. 14. Several students commented on its size and were curious about its history.

“I thought it was huge,” Joey Aratingi, a senior at Edgemont High School said. “I was not expecting that. This is going to be a fun project.”

“I’m excited for the Rye Police Department, it’s a good investment for them and exciting project for us,” Joey continued.

“It’s going to take alot more time, but it’s definitely going to be fun,” Chris Orellana, senior at Sleepy Hollow High School, said. “It’s just really putting the skills you have, doing what you’ve got to do and doing your best on it.”

“I didn’t expect something as big as this,” commented Robert Young, a student with Southern Westchester BOCES. “It’s good experience for us.”

Each class, both the morning and afternoon sessions, will be divided into small groups responsible for painting a certain section of the vehicle.

These types of projects have two factors that benefit students, Principal James Matera said. It provides an opportunity for students to work on a community service project while also raising awareness about technical education. It also enables students to have a positive interaction with police.

There is also a practical side, the principal noted. Students have an opportunity to hone their skills. In a way, he said, they are learning how to interact with customers.

“It’s a cool project,” Mr. Matera said.