GREENVILLE – The true “Spirit” of Christmas came early this year for a Greenville-based ambulance company.
During the annual employee Christmas party, Spirit Medical Transport, LLC, President/CEO Brian K. Hathaway opened the Spirit 2018 Christmas party with a speech that no one present will likely ever forget.
As employees, families and guests of the company gathered, Hathaway began conversing with Santa and then invited everyone to enjoy him for a trip to the North Pole. As children and employees began to follow Santa down a walking path, what they didn’t realize was that Hathaway had arranged for the Fairgrounds Coliseum to be transformed into the “Spirit North Pole.”
As the crowd entered, they were guided to rows of chairs that had been set up in front of two buses that were wrapped in Christmas paper and a banner in the middle the read “Spirit’s North Pole.” To ensure they couldn’t see anything behind the buses, caution tape prevented them from getting any viewing advantages.
While taking a seat, those in attendance began to ponder what all the hype was about. Then, Hathaway began to share why employees and their families had been invited to this special place.
“Our employees are the foundation of the business,” Hathaway said. “You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened. Tonight, will be one I hope you all remember for many years to come. We gather here because each one of you are the heroes that have made a Christmas dream of yours about to become reality. Over the past six-plus months, your goal has been my mission.”
The president explained that the employees said they needed more cardiac monitors that have “all the bells and whistles.” He asked Santa if he thought he could deliver. Santa pondered the question a few seconds and then whispered in Hathaway’s ear. Hathaway smiled and said that six additional cardiac monitors had been ordered for the benefit of patient care.
Hathaway told those in attendance that many EMS employees had expressed a desire to have powered ambulance stretchers in the ambulances to help lift the ever growing, morbidly obese population. He said he had sought bids from both Ferno and Stryker. He then asked the crowd if they’d like to know what was sitting behind the bus at the North Pole. The crowd yelled out, “Yes,” and Santa went behind the bus and escorted out six new power stretchers from Stryker that have the capacity to lift someone weighing up to 700 pounds. The crowd stood with applause.
Then, Hathaway said after agreeing to purchase from Stryker, the Ferno representative continued contact with him and gave the company a deal he couldn’t resist. He asked the crowd if they liked power cots. They replied with an astounding “yes.” Hathaway asked Santa to go check his sleigh for any additional power cots “you might have sitting around.” Within seconds, the elves from Spirit’s North Pole brought out six additional Ferno power cots. The crowd again roared with applause.
While addressing the crowd, he shared information about a report that two members of his management team put together this past summer about the available savings in parts and fuel associated with operating the new Ford Transit ambulances. Hathaway said he took the information to Greenville Federal and asked the bank about potential lending opportunities, as the purchase of the committee’s three recommended ambulances would supersede the available line of credit.
“Once again, the Greenville Federal staff and their board of trustees have rose to the occasion,” Hathaway said. “But to see what all is left at the North Pole, you are going to have to convince the jolly ole’ guy here to ‘move that bus.’”
In televisions true “Extreme Makeover” fashion, the crowd began to chant “move that bus … move that bus.” In response, Santa jumped into the driver’s seat of one bus and his elf another. As the curtain dropped and the buses began to move, six sets of emergency flashing lights began to light up the coliseum as the crowd took view of six new McCoy-Miller Ford Transit ambulances.
While some in the crowd cheered, others began to shed tears of joy. Others approached Hathaway and co-owner Aaron Guthrie giving them hugs for a Christmas party they’ll never forget.
In the nearly 12 years Spirit has been in business, it’s the first time the company has opted to buy new versus used ambulances.
“The best part about this whole thing was that it was all kept secret until tonight,” Hathaway said. “Everyone involved in making this Christmas miracle come true were awesome and amazing to work with. From late night deliveries, to covering windows so no one could see in, the whole thing was a lot of fun and involved tremendous support from countless people and organizations.”
Hathaway said only five company employees, two of which are his parents, knew about the big surprise. Hathaway said he and the other five spent numerous hours stocking each of the six ambulances to make sure they were ready for inspection by the Ohio Division of EMS, days before the company Christmas party.
“Tonight’s big surprise is all thanks to the employee’s and their families for the sacrifices they make,’ Hathaway said. “This whole thing wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the tremendous amount of employee support that continues to make Spirit’s success possible.”
Guthrie echoed Hathaway’s comments saying he’s proud of the equipment that’s been purchased, “Now don’t treat them like a rental car.”
All six ambulances are on the roads of western Ohio and eastern Indiana serving those in the geographical area Spirit covers.
Spirit Medical Transport, LLC, employs more than 100 people and serves all of western Ohio and Eastern Indiana with stations in Greenville, Celina, Van Wert, Sidney and Liberty, Indiana.