Fishing Fleet Holds Impromptu Donation Drive for Unalaska's Clinic
Thursday, April 04 2013
The ventilator is a critical part of the Iliuliuk Family and Health Services emergency room. It provides breathing support for patients while they wait for medevac flights. But after ten years, the clinic’s ventilator seemed to be breaking down.
Clinic director Eileen Scott says one of her EMTs took notice.
"We had some folks in here for an emergency and Gary Sandness was in here and actually started talking about getting a new ventilator."
When he’s not volunteering as an EMT, Sandness works for Alyeska Seafoods. He mentioned the ventilator to one of his colleagues there. They turned to the fishing fleet to start fundraising for a new machine.
To spur donations, they set up a contest, pitting fishing boats that offload in Unalaska against the “offshore” motherships and factory trawlers.
The six catcher vessels in the Alaska Boat Company donated $3,000. General manager Chris Kline says they were happy to do it.
"Well, I think we all need the services of the clinic," Kline says. "And whether we’re community members or transient fishermen or fish processors, we rely on them and they need to rely on us for some financial support – plain and simple."
Scott, the clinic director, was out of town when the fundraiser started. When she got back to work, she says there was a stack of checks waiting for her. It added up to $9,000.
"We were totally shocked -- thrilled, of course," she says. "But just like, 'Oh, really?' I didn’t know all this was going on!"
With the money, the clinic was able to buy a top-of-the-line ventilator.
"It’s already here, staff has already trained on it," Scott says. "We’ve actually used it for a couple of patients. It’s just nice to have something state of the art, brand new. We don’t usually get those things here. We’re excited about it."
At this point, Scott says donations are still rolling in from the fleet. The excess money will be used to assist with other programs.