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New ambulance comes to HAMC

By Sue Sitter - | Apr 3, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Emergency medical technicians pose near the new ambulance for Heart of America Medical Center. From left are: Kristyl Blowers, Julie Tastad, Jenny Cote, Jeremy Monroe and Cameron Thornberg.

Heart of America Medical Center will put a new ambulance into service shortly thanks to donations by area residents and grants from several public and private organizations.

The largest portion of funds came from a USDA Community Facilities Program Grant, a part of the agency’s rural development program.

The agency contributed $90,000 in grant funds toward the $170,000 total cost of the vehicle. “I think our responsibility’s going to be about $3,700 when it’s all said and done,” said Good Samaritan Hospital Association Coordinator Cathy Jelsing.

“It’s wonderful,” Jelsing said of the grant program. “The USDA has been very generous with Heart of America Medical Center for a long, long time. I’d have to go back to count how many grants we’ve received from them over the years.”

“These grants aren’t easy to put together,” Jelsing added. “There’s a lot of paperwork.”

Jelsing thanked Christy Wiltse of the USDA’s Minot office for helping with the process. “She has been just wonderful about helping me and I’m sure any organization that applies,” Jelsing said. “She is so helpful in sorting things out and explaining it and trying to make it an easy process. So, she’s a great advocate for our state.”

Jelsing said the rural development grant was one of “110 gifts HAMC received for the new ambulance (ranging) from $20 to the $90,000 (USDA) grant. St. Joseph’s Community Health Foundation contributed $15,000, which was more than matched by gifts from individuals and organizations.”

“Other top donors included: Farm Credit Services Pat-NOW Community Fund and CoBank at $7,500 each; Rugby Community Endowment Fund at $3,000 and Midco Founation, Otter Tail Power Company Foundation, HAMC Auxiliary, First International Bank and Trust and Larry and Ruth Haman at $2,500.”

Jelsing said about $22,000 was raised for the ambulance at the foundation’s annual golf tournament.

The new ambulance was custom-built using input from emergency medical technicians with the Rugby Ambulance Service.

“Originally, the thought was to get a four-wheel drive rig, but the crew said they’re bumpier to drive. And you don’t want to go over bumps when a patient is in pain,” Jelsing noted. “It also has a lift, which is huge. So now, both of our ambulances have this lift for loading and unloading patients. So, they can help people a lot easier. And people have gotten bigger. So, could you imagine trying to load a 250-pound person into the ambulance?”

Cameron Thornberg, emergency medical services manager at Heart of America Medical Center, opened the doors of the brand new rig his department received March 17.

“One thing we requested was the front cabinet where we put our response bags, they’re all just nets in the other ambulance, so we have glass in this one because we were spending a lot of time decontaminating the equipment (in the nets) because of COVID,” Thornberg said, pointing to glass storage cabinets near the front of the ambulance.

“Another thing is, this ambulance has harnesses,” Thornberg explained, pointing to safety harnesses on a seat near the gurney. “The other rigs just have lap belts. “So, it’s safer for rides in bad weather.”

Thornberg said the harnesses would protect staff in the event of rollover crashes as well.

“Also, this one has a power load because we don’t run with crews as big as with some ambulances,” he said, sliding the ambulance’s gurney along two tracks and pushing a button to lower it out of the vehicle. “So this way,” he added, “if we have to do a lot of lifting, a lot of times, there’s just two of us, so this makes it easier to load. It’ll hold up to 700 pounds.”

“There are a lot of ambulances where things aren’t secured down,” Thornberg added. “Everything in this will be behind glass and secure. Our cardiac monitor, we’re going to get a stand for it and bolt it in.”

A spokesman for the USDA said the department’s rural development programs offer a variety of opportunities for people living in small agricultural communities.

“From helping a rural small business or ag producer save on its bottom line with renewable energy or energy-efficient infrastructure, to helping an individual or family purchase their first home, rural development is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America,” the spokesman said.

“Projects are selected for approval based upon the specific criteria of that program,” the spokesman added. “We work closely with applicants to ensure it is a smooth process where the applicants feel that they matter because every project and applicant is important to us,” the spokesman added.

Jelsing had high praise for efforts the community put into bringing the new ambulance to HAMC.

“People here just stepped up,” Jelsing said of the ambulance project. “We just get such great support from the community and organizations.”

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