Traci Smith, director and paramedic at East Poweshiek Ambulance Service in Brooklyn, left, demonstrates how the new Stryker Power-Load lift system works with the Cole and Katy Calkins family and others at an event on Sunday, June 13 in Brooklyn. The event, “Sundaes for Steve,” was held to honor Steve Plants, a 45-year veteran volunteer with the EPAS and to unveil the new piece of equipment.
Thanks to community fundraising efforts and a generous gift from the Brooklyn and Malcom Presbyterian churches, the East Poweshiek County Ambulance Service was able to update the department’s ambulance.
The volunteer-led ambulance service recently installed a Stryker Power-Load lift in the main EPAS ambulance in late May at a cost of $25,000.
The new lift was purchased thanks to approximately $23,000 raised from a fundraising letter and an additional $2,000 in funds from a derecho grant the local Presbyterian churches received.
“The Presbyterian church applied for and received a grant that was offered to them after the derecho,” noted Smith, director and paramedic at East Poweshiek Ambulance Service in Brooklyn. “Since the Malcom and Brooklyn churches are together, they wanted to donate their grant to an organization that serves both communities. They thought of us for this and to also honor Chris Keller, who we lost the day of the derecho.”
Chris Keller, a member of the Brooklyn Fire Department and City of Brooklyn employee with the utilities department, died after being electrocuted by a downed powerline following the derecho that struck the area on Aug. 10, 2020.
“We love seeing the continued support of our community who gives so unselfishly to others just as Chris did daily,” said Leah Keller, wife of the late Chris Keller.
Traci Smith said the new lift has taken away most of the heavy lifting of the gurney (stretcher) for the volunteer crews. The Power-Load can lift as much as 800 pounds. The EPAS has a staff of 17 volunteers. The ambulance service makes from 300 – 350 calls per year.
“The lifting we have to do is hard on our aging crew members,” Smith said. “This will allow many of us to keep responding due to the decrease in heavy lifting. It also helps to reduce crew injuries, which is one of the most important reasons to have this (piece of equipment).”
The new equipment was unveiled on Sunday, June 13 at the Brooklyn Public Safety Building at the “Sundaes for Steve,” event honoring Steve Plants, a 45-year volunteer with the EPAS. Grinnell’s Dari Barn was on hand giving away ice cream sundaes in Steve’s honor. Cake was also available to guests.
“We were so happy to see so many people at our event,” Smith said. “We appreciate our service areas generous contributions to the service we provide. The donations go directly back into the service to have us equipped and ready to respond to the next emergency.”