Lake County Ambulance unveils new ambulance

By Adelle Whitefoot at 4:00 a.m.

The Lake County Ambulance unveiled its new Advanced Life Support ambulance Wednesday night at a press conference.

LCA was able to buy the new ambulance with a $322,675 donation from The Victory Fund, a foundation established to address and help communities solve chronic health issues. The Victory Fund is a new chapter of Community Health Center, which was the first member-owned health cooperative in Minnesota and was formed in Two Harbors in the 1940s. The ambulance service was actually a part of the Community Health Center before it became an independent service, said Katherine Heimbach, The Victory Fund executive director.

“We have been looking for a good initiative in Lake County that really could honor the legacy of our foundation,” she said. “(LCA) is still an independent piece of what use to be part of our organization, which is now The Victory Fund, so it was just a perfect fit.”

The new ambulance will be used to cover the 2,991 square mile radius LCA covers. The new model, a 2015 Road Rescue Ultramedic, will replace an older model and will provide access to patients in remote area or during inclement weather with the new feature of four-wheel drive.

“We won’t get stuck anymore. It happens. Early this week we got stuck in the snow on a slight incline,” said LCA executive director Cory Larson said. “The van style is really designed more for the urban setting. Now in rough weather we’ll be a lot more capable.”

Larson said this new ambulance is a huge step forward for LCA equipment-wise.

“What The Victory Fund donated is just out of this world,” he said. “This equipment, we don’t have the budget for. We’d be saving for years.”

Heimbach said Larson and the board approached the foundation with the need and they were more than happy to help.

“We are extremely proud because of the quality of the ambulance service and the history of the organizations and the way we’ve worked together,” Heimbach said. “I’m just proud and really honored to have our name on this ambulance. They are a high quality service.”

With this donation, The Victory Fund closed one chapter of their long history and opened another. The foundation continues to find solutions to chronic issues, but will now focus on alcohol and drug treatment and recovery programs as well as dementia in the upcoming years. The foundation will sponsor initiatives to increase the success of treatment as well as to aid Duluth in becoming a dementia-friendly community.

“We realized that we needed to narrow our focus in order to be more effective,” Heimbach said. “That being said, we’ll be continually refocusing over the years to serve our community’s needs.”