Collaboration and communication are integral skills for any first responder. Recently, the Hesston Fire/EMS Department practiced those skills within the larger community — seeking assistance in securing some new equipment.

Thanks to those community partnerships (with $30,000 in financial contributions from 30 area businesses), Hesston Fire/EMS was able to purchase a new Stryker Power Load System for one if its ambulances. The system was officially put into service last week — with a training held for personnel on Dec. 16.

According to Hesston Fire/EMS Chief Russ Buller, the equipment enhances the services provided by local first responders by creating a safer work environment for staff, as well as allowing for safer loading, unloading and transportation of patients.

"It's definitely a back saver for first responders," Buller said. "It's much safer for the patient both in the loading and unloading, as well as in an accident situation where it's a much more secure mounting system."

With the power load system, the Hesston's first out ambulance now features a track and trolley with a hydraulic lift, which eases the responsibility on technicians for critical lifts. Buller noted the hydraulics of the power load system do all the lifting, so all technicians have to do is walk the cot back into the ambulance.

Hesston Fire Marshal Misti Uhlman noted in a release that one of the most significant risks for first responders is back injuries, with one in four emergency medical service responders suffering a career-ending back injury within their first four years of employment. With the power load system, some of that strain will be taken off Hesston Fire/EMS staff to help reduce injuries — a benefit that can't be overlooked.

"A very high percentage of first responders have very significant back injuries in the first few years of doing this job. It's a type of job that puts a lot of stress on the lower back because of the types of lifts that we have to perform," Buller said. "Any time we can reduce that number of lifts, it's going to not only reduce our chance of injuring our staff, it will extend their ability to do this job for many more years, which helps the community."

On top of the benefits to staff, Buller noted the power load system will be advantageous to patients. The system will make loading easier on difficult terrain (like at the site of accidents), while the additional security during transport is something he said cannot be overlooked.

Further issues during transport pose less of a threat during transport with the power load system, which is rated for 26 Gs of force — meaning it is much more secure than the previous system in case the ambulance gets in a wreck while transporting patients.

Getting this new equipment to better serve Hesston was truly a community effort, and Buller noted the department was grateful for those efforts in helping secure the new power load system.

"We literally had amazing response from businesses, corporations and foundations that really stood up and wrote some nice checks to support this project. The concept was something that people could understand and wrap their head around," Buller said. "I greatly appreciate all of what they've done for making this come together."

Businesses contributing to the purchase of the Stryker Power Load System for Hesston Fire/EMS included:

Wray Roofing
AGCO Corporation
Schowalter Villa
Excel Industries
Golden Plains Credit Union
Cox Communications
John Earnest Foundation
Walmart – Newton
Westar Energy
Ardent Mills
Dan’s Cycle
Newton Medical Center
Harvey County Women’s Community Foundation
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad
Kansas Electric
BMG of Kansas
King construction
Mid Kansas Coop
Casey’s General Store
Citizens State Bank
First Bank
Harvey County Farm Bureau
American Energies
Goering Hardware
Kropf Lumber
Miller-Ott Funeral Home
Central National Bank
Hesston True Value