DEL NORTE— For the third year in a row, the Del Norte Ambulance Service hosted their free community dinner last Thursday, July 11. Several members of the community gathered at the ambulance barn in Del Norte to enjoy an evening of community fun and a spaghetti dinner with all the fixings provided by the department.
“We started this three years ago when the board and I decided we wanted to do something to give back to the community. We receive so much support from the people who live in this area and Rio Grande County, so we wanted to do something to say thank you,” said Del Norte Ambulance Director Carla Fresquez.
Over the past year, the ambulance board and Fresquez have received several grants to help fund new gurneys for all three of the ambulances, an automated CPR machine and a payroll grant. “We have been working really hard to get grants through the state that help us pay for state-of-the-art equipment as well as reimburse our employees. Our focus this year is to get more funding so that we can start doing out of town transportations that would allow us to take patients to places like Colorado Springs for treatment when they need it,” stated Fresquez.
The Lucas CPR device is an automated CPR machine that can administer CPR to a patient while first responders are able to work on other tasks needed to be completed for transportation. “It literally does the work for our first responders allowing them to focus on other important tasks like administering medication and preparing a patient for transportation,” said Fresquez.
The machine cost about $30,000 with a 50 percent match that was funded through a Colorado State grant. “It will save lives and that is why it is so important to have up to date equipment.”
The department was also able to secure grant funding to finish purchasing new gurneys for all of the ambulances on their fleet. “Now all of the ambulances have the hydraulic gurneys. It makes transporting a patient that much easier, because the gurney does most of the work. It is also safer for our patients.”
“We were also awarded a $50,000 payroll grant through the state that helps us pay for our dedicated employees. It will last us awhile and help alleviate some of the strain on our budget. We do grants like this every year, most of which are due in February and awarded later in the spring. We receive so much support from our community and just want to say thank you.”
The night was a huge success. Guests from all over the county gathered in the ambulance barn to enjoy food and community friendship. There was also a small petting zoo set up outside for the children to enjoy that included a rabbit, a chinchilla, a boa and even a guinea pig. Guests were also given a tour of the facility and the ambulances, offering a unique insight into the every day life of first responders.