DC Rotary helps fund ambulance, surgery equipment

January 7, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Ambulance and surgical equipment purchased by Cokato Dassel Rotary and other Rotary clubs in the area saved 18 lives in five months in Brazil, according to Lei Amorim of Gaylord.

Amorim told the DC members of Rotary about the equipment they helped furnish in a presentation at the Rotary meeting Dec. 13 in Daniel’s Family Restaurant in Cokato.

“Thanks to you, your generosity and your allowing us to host these projects, many lives have been saved,” Amorim said.

Amorim, a former Rotary exchange student to Brazil, and long-time Rotary member, explained how the Area 8 project was put together and received in Arcos. Area 8 includes not only Cokato and Dassel, but also Litchfield, Hutchinson, Glencoe and Gaylord clubs.

Amorim has dual citizenship, US and Brazil. She is married to a Brazilian, Silvio. They live half the time in Arcos and half in Gaylord, where Amorim works at Gaylord Feed Mill and Mill Travel and Tours.

In Arcos, a city of approximately 42,000, the hospital ambulance was in “dire straits,” in 2006, she said. Originally, she intended to have the project equip the hospital (equivalent to a county hospital) ambulance only. The hospital administrator asked her, though, if the project could also include surgical equipment.

That turned out to be the first obstacle in getting Rotary International to approve the project and grant. It ended up being two projects instead of one double project, Amorim said.

The second obstacle was even more daunting. The ambulance the Rotary intended to equip was carrying eight patients Sept. 20, 2006, when it crashed head-on into a semi, totaling the ambulance. There were no survivors, she said.

Hospital officials debated whether to get a used, older ambulance immediately, or wait until a new ambulance became available. Amorim persuaded hospital officials to get the older ambulance immediately.

“Let’s start saving lives now,” she said.

Arcos received the equipment soon after.

Amorim then went into great detail, illustrating how appreciative the people of Arcos were to receive both the ambulance and surgical equipment. For two days in June, the Rotary in Arcos had the equipment, including heart monitors, surgical respirators, cartographic monitor, medication monitor and dosage machine, and a state-of-the-art incubator with yellow lights and X-ray drawer, on display in the town square.

The presentation to the community turned into a parade. The Arcos Rotary members set off fireworks from the back of a truck, and drivers in 100 cars, honking their horns, followed the truck around the route through town.

Even Arcos police officers, who are part of the military and usually are frightening to Brazilians, assisted with the celebration.

People poured out of shops and homes to see the Rotary “parade” as it went by.

“It was, indeed, for me, a very moving experience,” she said.

A few months later, a young woman, unknown to Amorim, rushed up to Amorim, threw her arms around her and cried. She told how the new ambulance equipment had saved her mother’s life after she had a heart attack, Amorim said.

“The other day I would have lost my mother, but thanks to your wonderful generosity and work here, they were able to save her life,” the young woman told her. “Before I could thank the young lady, she turned and was on her way,” Amorim said.