What’s better than having fun while learning, and being outside on a beautiful summery evening with the sun high in the sky?
One mom, Sheila Siegel of Shiloh said not much is better than being at the new O’Fallon Fire Rescue and EMS Headquarters, a.k.a. Fire House No. 4.She and her son Fletcher, 2, participated in a family friendly oriented community event that had free food, entertainment and unique interactions with the behind the scenes local heroes of the O’Fallon Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff and volunteers.
“We’ve never been in a medical helicopter before. We are having a blast while trying to show our appreciation for (those who serve the O’Fallon-Shiloh community),” Siegel said with a smile as she launched herself out of the helicopter.
It was all grilling smells wafting through the breeze from the Roy-el Catering grill, laughter of children and the ‘ooo’s and ahhh’s’ adults and kids alike watcing the various demonstrations, jumping kids in the bounce house or climbing in and around the latest ambulance and suprise visitor Air Medical helicopter, while other visitors meandered across the parking lot and grassy area outside the new O’Fallon Fire Headquarters. Over 200 adults and kids from O’Fallon and Shiloh spread out over the grass and the fire engine apparatus bay and firefighter training area for an annual event that gets “more fun every year,” according to Kim Lamprecht, O’Fallon paramedic supervisor and instructor at Southwestern Illinois Community College (SWIC) in Belleville, said.
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“We do this every year, and it’s a great way for us EMS (police and firefighters) to interact with kids in the community in a positive, more casual environment, not just in times of distress or emergencies,” Lamprecht said.
“It’s nice to see all these people come out to support us,” Lamprecht said. “Plus this location is better as opposed to the other fire house locations used in the past that ended up crowded with people in a smaller area — this is more spread out here, and people aren’t on top of eachother.”
She said about 250 people attended this year’s event.
“I think this year’s event was a huge success at our new location, O’Fallon Fire/EMS Headquarters. The expanded room at his location will allow us to grow and provide more fun activities for the children as well as more health and wellness information for the adults at our future events,” Lamprecht said.
Kris Whitlock, a critical care flight paramedic from Air Methods family in Highland, which is the same company as ARCH, said the Bell 407GX ARCH Medical helicopter is only about a year old, and is probably the newest of its kind in the region.
“We are the only medical helicopter South of Springfield, Ill. to begin stocking blood for transfusions. We used to and still do transfer patients, mostly adults, from a hospital while they have an IV in, but this will be the first aerial vehicle to house extra stores of O negaive type blood. It is a universal blood type used because we don’t have the lab capability in a moving craft to type and cross a person’s blood type,” Whitlock said. “For example, if we are dispatched to a hard to reach spot where a traffic accident occurred, we will be able soon to have a few units on hand to go directly to the crash site.”
While it is the largest Air Medical provider nationwide with almost 400 or more in the air, this region only has a handful, and the ARCH Medical helicopter transfers patients to St. Louis University Hospital or Barnes-Jewish Hospital, both in St. Louis, Mo. with the busiest hours of need being in the afternoons and evenings, according to Whitlock.
Whitlock said the popular question of the evening was, “how fast does this thing go (fly)?”
He said the aerial vehicle reaches 140 knots or 165 miles per hour, which is about average for a helicopter, Whitlock said.
Andrew Olson, owner and practicioner of Olson Orthodonics in O’Fallon, said he brought his kids because as a local business owner and proud resident he feels it’s important to live by example and support O’Fallon.
“My wife and I grew up here, and now we are business owners and parents to Watkin, 3, and Avalynn, 5, and we want to share with them what O’Fallon has to offer,” Olson said while he and his kids enjoyed hotdogs.
Brandon Weyhaupt, 12, of O’Fallon, walked around the O’Fallon Fire House No. 4 apparatus bay with an ear-to-ear smile. He said he “(had) more fun than I thought.”
“My favorite part was being able to check out the new off-road, six-wheel rescue vehicle!” Weyhaupt exclaimed. “It’s just so cool that our (department) has something cool like this. It’s for trails, park or pedestrian path emergencies.”
Firefighter Erick Harris explained the importance of a versatile and compact vehicle in a growing family community.
“There are so many parks in O’Fallon and Shiloh together, plus more pedestrian trails being made all the time, so when a squad car or ambulance can’t get to someone who needs help, this will allow us to be there faster and more efficiently to transport the person or persons to an ambuland or what not,” Harris noted.
So hikers, visitors to the off-road dog park(s), cyclists, runners and walkers need not worry, O’Fallon has them covered even if they are in the woods and have an accident or heart attack, Harris told Weyhaupt.
To honor the “local heroes,” the City of O’Fallon announced a proclamation declaring the week of May 16 - 20, 2016 as O’Fallon EMS Week. The Proclamation further extends appreciation to O’Fallon’s Emergency Medical Services Department for the vital services they perform in our community.
“Our EMS Department provides critical emergency medical services that are second to none,” Mayor Gary Graham said. “When a serious illness or accident occurs in our City, I know that the residents of O’Fallon can rest assured that they are in good hands with our EMS employees.”
In celebration of EMS Week, an open house will be held at the O’Fallon Fire/EMS Station No. 4 (1215 Taylor Road) on Wednesday, May 18, blood pressure screenings were available in addition to many fun activities for the children, like the life size game of Operation and the bounce house, all provided by Roy-el Catering, the National Event Manager Marty Nunguesser is also a paramedic with the O’Fallon Public Safety EMS department. The Air Medical Helicopter made an appearance, and the Fire Department performed a live extrication with the help of O’Fallon Explorers.
Members of the O’Fallon EMS Department provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week and engage in numerous hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their lifesaving skills.