Dysart Ambulance Service holds a fundraiser, remembers fallen heroes

Sisters Kinzley Roberts (left), 6, and Harlow Roberts (right), 3, enjoy a pork chop dinner Saturday night during Dysart Ambulance Service’s annual fundraiser. Kinzley and Harlow’s grandfather Randie Brodigan is a 32-year member of the department. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker.

The Dysart Ambulance Service held its annual Pork Chop Dinner in the Dysart Community Building this past Saturday, September 11 after taking 2020 off due to COVID-19.

Sporting new blue t-shirts with the phrase ‘Never Forget’ across an image of the New York City skyline, about a dozen members of the 21-member department served up Iowa chops, smoked baked beans, party potatoes, salad, and dessert 20 years to the day after more than 400 emergency workers lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Proceeds from the annual fundraiser go towards training and equipment for the primarily volunteer-driven Dysart Ambulance Service. Prior to the 2021 legislative session in Iowa, emergency medical service (EMS) was not considered an essential service which meant there was no earmarked funding.

EMS departments like Dysart Ambulance Service are still not considered an essential service in Iowa but a new law signed by Governor Kim Reynolds in June gives individual county board of supervisors the option to enact a tax to benefit local EMS departments — a tax that must be voter approved.

In the meantime, if someone calls for service and Dysart Ambulance responds but the individual cannot pay, the department must absorb that cost.

Harold Langbehn (left) reminisces with members of the Dysart Ambulance Service including Mary Wankowicz (right) during last Saturday’s annual Pork Chop Dinner fundraiser in the Dysart Community Building. Langbehn was a founding member of Dysart’s rescue service over 50 years ago. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker.

According to Director Julie Scadden, prior to 2020, the department averaged around 240 calls a year for service.

“In 2020 — like most [EMS] — we actually decreased calls,” Scadden said. “This year we’re on track to hit 200 calls for the year.”

The Dysart Ambulance Service covers a fairly large geographic area, Scadden said, some 150-square miles stretching almost to Garrison to the east, to Buckingham in the north, four miles shy of Traer to the west, and almost to Elberon to the south.

Plenty of people showed up Saturday night to show their support for the rural ambulance crew including one of the original founders of Dysart’s rescue service, 92-year-young Harold Langbehn.

“I helped start the ambulance service,” Langbehn recalled to members of the department on his way out the door Saturday evening, takeout container in hand. Members who greeted Langbehn agreed the service was more than likely formalized around 1974.

Kinzley Roberts, 6, (left) serves a roll to Kathy Turner (right) of rural Dysart during Saturday’s annual Pork Chop Dinner fundraiser to benefit the Dysart Ambulance Service. Kinzley’s grandpa Randie Brodigan (center back) will mark 33-years as a volunteer with the rural ambulance service in the spring of 2022. Dysart Ambulance Service member Jackie Obrosk (second from left) is also pictured. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker.

For folks like Langbehn and others in attendance at the fundraiser — including a couple who said they were just passing through town — on a day like 9/11, supporting first responders, particularly those in your own backyard, just felt like the right thing to do.

Twelve members of Dysart Ambulance Service (navy shirts) along with event volunteers Skylar Pearson (front left) and Kinzley Roberts (front right) pose for a group photo Saturday evening during the department’s annual Pork Chop Fundraiser inside the Dysart Community Building. The primarily-volunteer rural EMS department has 21 members total and relies on fundraising and donations to operate. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker.

Union Middle School student Skylar Pearson (left) passes out silverware to Tama County Emergency Management Coordinator Ryan Goodenbour (left) during Dysart Ambulance Service’s annual Pork Chop Dinner at the Dysart Community Building on Saturday, September 11. Pearson earned silver cord hours by volunteering at the event. Goodenbour took over the position of Emergency Management Coordinator for Tama County on July 14 — the same day a tornado hit the town of Dysart. Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker