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Forest City held expanded National Night Out event at Pammel Park on Aug. 2

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Forest City celebrated National Night Out locally on Aug. 2 with an expanded event this year at Pammel Park for hundreds of kids and family members.

Forest City Police Chief Tom Montgomery said moving the venue from uptown to behind the Forest City Emergency Services Center provided for more games such as corn hole, Plinko, a tug of war, and bag toss. He thanked the Forest City Hy-Vee for donating 300 hot dogs and buns for the event.

We thought we’d try something a little different and the weather is not bad,” Montgomery said. “It’s to have the public come out and interact with officers, fire department, and EMS personnel.”

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department coordinated a K-9 dog demonstration with 2-year-old Riggs interacting with children. Riggs displayed bite work, narcotics protection, and obedience skills under the cues of Sheriff Sgt. Brett Wilson. The recently retired Forest City K-9 Yeira, 13, attended with the Wilson family. She couldn’t keep from still participating by showing kids her skills and posing for photos.

“This just creates positive rapport with the community and the kids,” said Winnebago County Sheriff Steve Hepperly. “It’s to let them know we’re the good guys and we’re here to help. Any footing we can glean and gain in today’s world is a positive.”

Tiffany (Skyler) Ahrens helped her daughters, 2-year-old Adley and 5-year-old Haizlee, secure two of the 300 hot dogs.

“My brother is part of the Forest City Fire Department, so we decided to come out tonight,” Ahrens said. “We’re excited to see the K-9 dogs. We’ve seen Yeira before at the fair in Thompson, but this is our first year here.”

Full-time paramedic Clair Olson of the Forest City Ambulance Service was showing members of the public a Lucas 2 device that does chest compressions for EMS personnel.

“Humans get tired, but the Lucas doesn’t,” Olson said. “It also frees us up for other things like administering drugs. It can go continuously if we’ve got the airway open or run on CPR mode. We’ve had it since about 2013. We had a different type of device before that. We’ve found this to be the most effective and easiest to use.”

He noted how not all heart conditions are shockable, so the monitor is often needed to pause and check on the status of a transport patient. He estimated that a new Lucas device costs about $10,000 pre-tax and that the necessary monitor with defibrillator can cost about $35,000.

Olson also described the use of the city’s three ambulances and three emergency response vehicles. He noted that paramedics can respond first in the response units, which have everything to treat patients, but are not intended for patient transport. He estimated that the city’s ambulances, which are fully equipped for transport, can easily cost $400,000 apiece.

Of the night’s event, he expressed optimism it could spark interest and help with future recruitment of area volunteers.

“It’s just community awareness to let them know what we’re doing and what we’re going to do when we get on scene,” said Olson, who has served for more than 20 years in Forest City.

Waldorf student and residence assistant Star George, who will be a college junior this fall, was donning fire department gear to show children firefighting methods.

“My dad is a firefighter,” George said. “I just want them to be encouraged. That’s why I’m doing this.”

Forest City police officer Aaron Kelso helped 5-year-old Ari Bartleson of Forest City slip into some police gear. Bartleson is the son of Adam and Kristina Bartleson of Forest City. They also have a 9-year-old daughter, Elsa, who was participating in all the event had to offer.

“My kids have come to it in the past few years,” Adam Bartleson said. “Our son really likes the police cars and our daughter really like the games.”

The National Night Out program is meant to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at


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