Celebrating a milestone

GOWRIE – With a few puffs into a paper bag, a swipe of his hand and the uttering of the word “abracadabra,” magician Michael Oz was able to restore a popped balloon animal back to its intact state during his show at the Southwest Webster Ambulance 40th Anniversary Celebration Saturday in Gowrie.

But it takes more than magic like that to ensure a volunteer emergency medical service continues to thrive.

“One of the challenges is always having enough volunteers,” said Terry Towne, director of Southwest Webster Ambulance, “and of course, there are the changes in EMS.”

When the ambulance service first formed in 1973, the focus of EMS was to retrieve the injured from the accident or traumatic event and get them to the hospital as fast as possible, Towne said. Now, however, the emergency medical technicians must still make haste, but first they stabilize the individual, then protect their spine and any broken bones before they transport them.

“It’s more equipment, more skills, and it’s more time-consuming,” Towne said, “but it’s better for the patient.”

And having an active, up-to-date ambulance service is good for the community, said Jim Peterson, a 20-year member of the service.

“If it’s an emergency, you need that care immediately,” he said. “You don’t want to have to wait 25 minutes for an ambulance from Fort Dodge to arrive.”

Towne agreed.

“Having that care close can be life-saving and life-altering,” she said.

In instances where patients are suffering a stroke, Towne said, the quicker the response and care, the better their odds of not only survival but also an improved recovery.

The people at the celebration marking the milestone for Southwest Webster Ambulance Service said they understood the value of the service and appreciate its presence.

“It’s a great service to the community,” said Andrea Kuhn, of Gowrie. “We just wanted to support them today.”

Though the day’s games and activities were a community celebration, it was also a fundraiser. Participants could offer a freewill donation to either the equipment fund for the ambulance service or the Gowrie Volunteer Fire Department, which is raising money to construct a new building next to the ambulance garage. If people were feeling particularly generous they could donate to both.

The ambulance service is always looking for volunteers should people want to give of their time, as well as their money, Towne said. Anyone can volunteer, regardless of their experience. They just need to live or work in the town of Gowrie or live within three miles of Gowrie. Once someone has joined, they will be trained in-house in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and further encouraged to take an emergency medical technician course.

“It’s worth it,” Towne said. “This is very rewarding. We have one member who has been with us for 34 years.”

Peterson agreed, adding that the training will benefit a volunteer’s family as much as the community.

“All parents should have some basic training for when the kids get hurt,” he said. “Some things look traumatic, but once you have training you at least know a little bit about what’s going to transpire. You can get a handle on what to expect.”