Barbara Brown may always wonder whether her friend Andrea Standlee could have been saved if the rescue crews who arrived at her crash scene near Blue Eye had been equipped with fire extinguishers to use when the small pickup truck burst into flames.
So Brown has established a new fund through the Table Rock Lake Community Foundation – the Andrea Standlee Memorial Fund – with a goal of purchasing fire extinguishers for the vehicles of about 130 volunteer firefighters in Stone County.
A May graduate of Blue Eye, Standlee was killed in a one-car crash on Missouri 86 on her way to class at Ozarks Technical Community College on the morning of Sept. 14. She missed a curve and her small pickup overturned and hit some trees. She survived the crash and was coherent and talking to rescuers when the car caught on fire, Brown said. But no one at the scene had a fire extinguisher available and Standlee, 18, died before rescuers could free her.
“This was truly something that I think could have been avoided,” she said. “I don’t know that absolutely for sure. But when the accident happened, she was talking. She was able to want out of there.”
Brown said she was surprised to learn that volunteer firefighters in many areas don’t carry fire extinguishers. She said she learned it was a budget issue, but that if she could develop private resources, volunteer departments would welcome the equipment.
Her initial goal is to raise about $7,000 to equip Stone County first responders with the fire extinguishers, mounting brackets, recharging equipment and training on proper use. Any additional money raised will be used to do the same for Taney County volunteers and eventually spread to other areas of the Ozarks.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Bracker commends Brown on her efforts. He said fire extinguishers are standard equipment for Highway Patrol cars and are used in a range of situations from serious accidents to grass fires. While he doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of Andrea Standlee’s crash, he said an extinguisher can either suppress a fire or keep it from growing long enough to attempt a rescue.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “I hope she can catapult this to provide them across the region. Those volunteer first responders out there should appreciate the efforts she is making to get them equipped with fire extinguishers.”
Contributions to the Andrea Standlee Memorial Fund can be made to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, 425 E. Trafficway, Springfield, Mo., 65806, or by donating online.