Banks to kick off Community Counts fundraisers on Feb. 18

Banks Wines and Spirits in Millville will host a fundraiser on Friday, Feb. 18, from 6 to 11 p.m., at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club in Dagsboro, to benefit Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s emergency medical service – specifically to fund the purchase of a bariatric stretcher, which is used for larger patients.

Kami Banks of Banks Wines and Spirits explained that, this year, the Banks family decided to host four large-scale fundraisers, calling the commitment “Community Counts.” The first event is the Feb. 18 event at Cripple Creek.

“Our hope is, by hosting these events, we can have even more success in raising funds for these organizations,” she explained this week. “We chose our first fundraiser to benefit the Millville Volunteer Fire Company EMS Program, since there is an immediate need in our community for the bariatric stretcher.”

The Feb. 18 fundraiser will include food, wine, beer – including hand-crafted brews by Evolution Craft Brewing Company – and entertainment, all for $60.

In addition, tickets in a raffle for a Royal Caribbean cruise for two, with cruise arrangements through Dream Vacations, are being sold for $5, and the winner will be drawn at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club that same night. (The winner need not be present to claim their prize.)

Tickets for the fundraiser are on sale now at Banks Wines and Spirits, Millville Town Hall, Millville Volunteer Fire Company, and Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club.

Tom Moore, ambulance supervisor of the MVFC, explained the bariatric stretcher will both make their obese patients more comfortable while they’re being transported and help the EMS workers. But that comes at a steep price of $15,000.

For larger patients, Moore said, it is possible to transport them on a regular stretcher, but the bariatric stretcher – which offers an attachment that makes the stretcher wider and allows it to hold up to about 750 pounds – makes it more comfortable for everyone involved.

“I’m not saying you can’t do it,” he said of using a regular stretcher, “but it is very uncomfortable. And this is powered, so the EMS workers don’t have to bend.”

He added that the stretcher is powered by a button to go up and down, and the only time the workers have to actually lift the patient is when they are putting the patient in he ambulance. With the bariatric stretcher, the whole process can be done more efficiently and with greater respect for the patient, he said.

While the bariatric stretcher is a significant investment, Moore noted that some ambulance companies have resorted to plywood as an option for transporting larger patients, which can make for an embarrassing, uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening situation for the patient, as they can sometimes opt to preserve their pride over getting the help they need. It can be a dangerous situation for workers, as well.

“Bethany Beach has a bariatric stretcher, and we had to call it in several times last year,” said Moore. “It makes it a little more dignified for the larger patients, saves the backs of the EMTs and will help us serve our district better,” concluded Moore.

The Millville fire company has only eight employees on the payroll – emergency medical technicians, who are paid with company funds. All other MVFC staff are volunteers. The MVFC responded to an estimated 1,400 calls in 2010, and the company’s three ambulances are expected to drive more than 25,000 miles in the upcoming year.

“Operating the company ambulance service costs over a half a million dollars per year, not including the cost of replacing ambulances. The annual costs will increase with population growth and advances in medical care technology,” MVFC representatives wrote in a recent fundraising appeal.

State and county grants and aid provided just over $100,000 of the company’s ambulance service budget in 2009, $73,500 coming from Sussex County and $27,300 from the state. The state contribution specifically to the ambulance-service budget was half of the $54,600 total state grant to the MVFC.

“It’s critical for us because the amount of money that we get from the State, as well as the County, is not enough to fund the operation,” said Bob Powell, MFVC public information officer. “We rely very heavily on outside donations, the Town of Ocean View grant and any other fundraising we may have helps us to reach our budget we set.”

Banks Wines and Sprits is located at 302 Atlantic Avenue in Millville. For information on the fundraiser, call (302) 537-8008 or visit