Christmas arrived at the Bethel Fire Department in the form of a shiny new ambulance. On Friday, Bethel Fire Chief Bill Howell led a lunchtime dedication ceremony for the vehicle. The new addition, referred to as Medic Six, follows more than a year of fundraising.
"There’s literally been everything from volleyball tournaments, to food trucks, to ceramics made," Howell said. "It’s been very creative. T-shirts sold, thousands of bratwursts and hamburgers."
The Fire Department, joined by sponsors and community leaders, cut a long blue ribbon to commemorate the occasion. A gold bow glittered on the ambulance’s door, and Christmas music played in the background.
EMT Bruce Claypool, pastor of the Bethel Independent Baptist Church, said a prayer over the vehicle, asking “that it would preform efficiently, reliably, and be rolling out of this bay on service calls for many years to come.”
Efficiency and reliability were qualities the old fleet was beginning to lack. The last Bethel ambulance was purchased 14 years ago and has been crashing over Bethel's potholed roads ever since. Claypool hopes that he’s seen the last days of jumping into a pickup truck because an ambulance wouldn’t start.
“Somebody had to grab a bag off the old ambulance and throw it in the back of the pickup truck and run out on a call, which is just not a good way to do it," Claypool said. "But it was what we had, and it was all we had.”
The new ambulance also carries new features, like foam-based firefighting equipment to extinguish car or grass fires, breathing apparatus that allow emergency personnel to respond to carbon monoxide scenes without a fire engine, and a power lifter and stretcher to load patients with the touch of a button.
Fundraising for Medic Six came from organizations and individuals across Bethel. Former EMT Steve Chung kickstarted the campaign last spring by selling Korean chicken tacos out of his parents’ Casa Food Truck.
“There was no notice," Chung said, "and we still made $2,000 in five hours. It was three [tacos] for $20, but people were basically throwing money at us.”
Firefighter/EMT Anne Kosacheff sold 100 pieces of handmade ceramics and donated half of the proceeds to the ambulance fund.
“Several mugs, lots of ornaments and lots of bowls, and some little magnets. Mostly they were red and blue because the Fire Department colors are red and blue,” said Kosacheff.
Individuals, nonprofits, and businesses all contributed to purchase the new ambulance. The City pitched in money, and a series of grants made up the rest. In all, the Medic Six fund raised about $266,000.