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A most unexpected gift

Posted 3/27/13 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

As head of the McKenzie County Ambulance Service, it is not very often that Kerry Krikava is caught off-guard.
But when Arne Holm and Rick Holm recently dropped by the ambulance service and presented them with two $50,000 checks, they not only caught Krikava off-guard, they also left her speechless.
“Arne and Rick’s donations were a complete surprise,” states Krikava, of the single largest donation that the McKenzie County Ambulance Service has ever received. “It was an awesome gift. And it was a gift that we greatly appreciate.”
According to Krikava, although the county ambulance service receives funds from both the city and the county as well as grants, it is donations from people and businesses in the county that help fund this critically-needed service.
“We rely a great extent on donations,” states Krikava. “Every donation that we get, whether it is $5 or more, is vital to us.”
And according to Krikava, the demand for the county ambulance service has never been greater as a result of increased accident calls.
“Five years ago, the McKenzie County Ambulance Service responded to about 28 calls a month,” states Krikava. “Today, we’ve averaging over 100 calls a month.”
And that increased volume of calls, which has already reached 300 in the first three months of 2013 and is well on the way to surpassing the 981 calls in 2012, is taxing the ambulance service’s staff and their equipment.
The ambulance service, according to Krikava, currently has access to five paramedics and utilizes a 32-person staff who work a variety of hours serving as drivers all the way up to advanced EMTs.
“The number of calls that we are responding to isn’t the whole story,” states Krikava. “Some of the calls are seven hours and can include transporting accident victims to Watford City and then transferring them to a tertiary hospital.”
While the type of motor vehicle  accidents to which the ambulance service is currently responding are similar to what was seen five years ago, the severity of those accidents is much greater today.
“Five years ago, we had severe accidents,” states Krikava. “But today the number is way up. We’ve already had eight fatalities in the county so far this year. That is the same number that we had in an entire year in the past.”
While Arne Holm and Rick Holm freely acknowledge that, as individuals, there is very little that they can do to help relieve the pressure and stress that Krikava and those working with the McKenzie County Ambulance Service feel, they hope that their donations will help.
“The only reason that we gave the ambulance service the money is because they need it,” stated Rick Holm. “They are a well-oiled machine. They just need some help.”
According to Rick, he and his father hope that the money can be used to help construct a new building that is being proposed to house the ambulances and to provide office and training areas.
“The job that the ambulance service does is fantastic,” stated Holm. “We wanted to help the city meet some of its critical needs. And in our opinion, the ambulance service is where the most help is needed.”
According to Krikava, no decision has been made as to how the ambulance service will use the generous donation from Arne and Rick.
“Ultimately, the ambulance board will decide where to use the donation,” states Krikava. “It could be used for another ambulance, a new building or for hiring more staff.”
But Arne and Rick don’t care where the ambulance board decides to use their donations. To them, it was a small way of saying “thanks” to the ambulance service for being there when they needed it as a family, and to help the community.
“We have so many needs,” states Krikava. “$100,000 goes a long way in helping meet those needs.”