Sylvan Beach, N.Y. - Eric Centro has been a welder and inventor for decades. He builds all sorts of unique things out of metal in his shop in Lee Center. It's the way he makes his living. But he may not be more proud of any of his work than the rescue sleds he has now built for free and delivered to four area fire volunteer departments. The sleds can be attached to a snowmobile and they give first responders the capability of working on an injured snowmobiler while transporting that person off the trails, sometimes in very remote areas.
On Sunday, Centro delivered his latest sled to the Sylvan Beach Fire Department. He had previously delivered similar sleds to Taberg, Camden and New London over the last couple of years.
Sylvan Beach 2nd Assistant Fire Chief Fred Johnston says he saw a 'Centro sled' at the New London Fire Department last fall and knew his department could really use one, "Seeing theirs and I was like what was that and they were like that’s a rescue sled, Eric Centro built it. I contacted him and it’s the ideal thing for us. This is going to work out perfect."
Centro says he would have gotten it to Sylvan Beach sooner but he had gotten sick over the holidays, so he just completed it this past week, "I really really wanted them to have the sled this weekend because I knew with the snow and the temperatures and the weather, this would be a very busy snowmobile weekend and I happen to have been out riding last night and it was crazy out there."
Johnston says it's sad to hear about the recent accidents up in the north country that left one man dead and several others injured in the past three days, but he says this is exactly why this piece of equipment is so valuable, "This thing's going to make the job a lot easier, I mean you can get 50 people out to the victim but trying to get the victim back efficiently is always the problem, so this is going to be top notch."
Centro says he's already been contacted by another department to build his fifth sled, and says it's a little late in the season to get it to them to use during this snowmobile season, but he says they'll definitely have it in time for next winter.