GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR – J.W. SCHNARR
Fort Macleod residents celebrated Oktoberfest in style Saturday by showing up in numbers to support the health foundation.
For the sixth straight year, the Fort Macleod Health Foundation had no problem filling seats for its annual Oktoberfest, as this year’s event was a sellout at the community hall with 245 tickets sold.
“There’s been a really broad range of support,” said Denise Joel, site manager of the Fort Macleod Health Centre. “It’s really great to see.”
Brian Vandervalk of the Fort Macleod Health Foundation said for the past six years the organization has been using the event to help raise money to improve health care in the community.
This year, the focus was on raising money for the purchase of a Lifepak 15, a combination monitor and defibrillator in use by ambulances across the province.
“We’re running the older Lifepak right now,” Vandervalk said. “This is the one that newer ambulances and STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue) are using.”
In addressing those in attendance, Joel highlighted the importance of having the upgrades in place.
“You don’t want to know how it works,” Joel said. “Just know it’s one of those pieces of equipment that will save your life. You’ll be glad to know it’s there if you need it.”
Vandervalk also spoke about the importance of using the same equipment for emergency issues in order to avoid connectivity issues when precious seconds are ticking away.
“This will make (our system) transferrable, so if they come in they can just stay hooked up.”
“It is the most up-to-date,” Joel said. “So this brings our EMS up to that level.”
Residents came out for dinner and then opened their wallets to take part in a live and a silent auction of items donated from local businesses.
The evening’s emcee Vandervalk was certainly dressed the part as he donned traditional German tracht for the event.
Dinner was served by LA Chefs and included roast beef, spaetzle, and schnitzel as well as a host of other traditional German fare. The bar was manned by emergency first responders from the area.
Local auctioneer Darren Shaw was on hand to call the auction action, while Lethbridge musical act Fast Times hit the stage so people could dance the night away.
“When I see the support here in this room every year for the health foundation, it’s tremendous,” Shaw told the attendance.
The annual event has become something of a tradition, and Vandervalk said every year there is a strong turnout from local residents.
“This is a local cause,” Vandervalk said of health care. “It doesn’t distinguish between one group or another. Everybody has access to the emergency room and may someday need it.”
“We just wanted to have the latest up-to-date equipment to use,” he added.
“It shows we are invested in our community and we want to keep health care vibrant and vital to our community,” said Joel. “It’s important to keep local resources local.”
Joel told the crowd their continued support of the foundation is a marker for the generosity of local residents.
“It’s amazing to see the support,” Joel said. “It’s quite overwhelming, actually, that they sell this event out without any difficulties. It’s a testament to the kind of spirit in Fort Macleod.”