Slater EMS celebrates 40 years with free pulled pork, medical helicopters, service dogs

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
Slater EMS Tahoe is one of the vehicles that will be onsite for the department's 40th anniversary open house Sunday. Medical helicopters are also scheduled to appear, weather and availability permitting.

Slater EMS is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a free pulled pork meal Sunday and a celebration that will feature medical helicopters and Iowa Service Dogs. The open house will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the log cabin at Nelson Park.

The event will also be an opportunity to learn some lifesaving skills like CPR and Stop the Bleed.

“A couple of us are Stop the Bleed instructors, and I’m a CPR instructor,” said Clint Bennethum, assistant chief of Slater EMS.

The Slater emergency medical service department started in 1982.

“Slater is kind of a unique animal because EMS and fire are separate organizations in the town,” Bennethum said. “The fire station is on Main Street, and we’re over by the water tower.”

Chad Fleener, chief of Slater EMS, said that when an accident occurred in Slater during a Fourth of July celebration, people ran to the fire station for medical equipment. A car backed into pedestrians after the parade that day, killing one person and injuring three.

“The fire station had minimal medical equipment because we’re separate,” Fleener said.

Slater EMS usually holds a pasta dinner to fundraise, but this year the group’s goal is to give back to the community that has supported it for four decades.

“That’s where the free meal comes in. And we want people to come meet us and talk to us. I meet so many people who don’t realize we’re not part of the fire department,” Bennethum said. “We haven’t really done anything quite like this before, so we’re trying to make it big.”

The meal will include a pulled pork sandwich, chips and a drink. The meals are free; donations will be accepted but are not required. Funds will be used to purchase a new monitor.

Slater EMS acquired a Lucas 3 device thanks to a Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Grant. The machine provides chest compressions in the event of a cardiac event when CPR is needed. It allows the responders to focus on other aspects of resuscitation.

Slater EMS Tahoe and ambulances from transporting agencies will be onsite for people to see. Helicopters from Life Flight and Mercy One will also be at the location, weather and availability permitting.

Dogs and staff from Iowa Service Dogs will be at the celebration. Members will be training dogs and talking with people about the group’s services.

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The chief and assistant chief are also hoping the event will inspire more volunteers to join the Slater EMS, which currently has eight members but is approved for as many as 12.

“Sometimes that cuts us pretty thin in our little volunteer department,” Bennethum said. “We go out on any medical calls in the Slater, Sheldahl, surrounding area. We’re mutual aid for Huxley and Kelley.

“It could be anything from someone falling down to a cardiac arrest.”

Usually the first responders at the scene, the medical care the EMS personnel provide is crucial. Although they don’t provide transport service, they provide patient care and get the patient ready for the arriving ambulance. The care in those first moments can be a matter of life and death, and the EMS volunteers quickly bring the ambulance workers up to speed with the patient’s medical history and current status.

“In that first five or 10 minutes, we’re treating any immediate life threats and getting them stabilized to get on that transport,” Fleener said.

Classes will be taught for Stop the Bleed, which teaches people how to react to serious cuts and other injuries, where a loss of blood can lead to death. Those classes are free and will take place at noon and 2 p.m.

Hand-only CPR demonstrations will be conducted throughout the event, and CPR certification testing will be available for people who’ve completed the online course. Email slaterems.cpr@gmail.com for registration information for the certification testing.