By Zach Anderson
After 36 years of working for the Ambulance Department, Harry Blok is retiring from his duties.
Blok started with the ambulance service after he moved to Starbuck in 1975. In April of 1976 he applied to join the Starbuck Fire Department but they told him he should talk to them after he had been in town for a year.
Charles Blocher, who was on the ambulance department heard this and asked Blok if he would like to join the ambulance crew which consisted of Blocher, Phil Landgraf and Bruce Gilbertson.
Blok jumped at the opportunity to join the ambulance because while he worked at his barber shop in Canada for nine years he had several medical customers since his business was located two blocks from a seven vehicle ambulance business.
The very next day Blok was doing patient care in the ambulance.
One memory Blok remembers is one time a lady had a heart attack at midnight while she was visiting Starbuck. The lady passed away from the heart attack and when Blok went to the waiting room, the lady’s father and two children were there. Blok said the young girl was sitting by herself and he grabbed a chair and sat down next to her. The girl laid her head on Blok’s shoulder and cried for about 10 minutes. “I encouraged her and after she was done crying she said I could go,” Blok said. “I told her I was in no rush and that she was worth it.” The little girl told him nobody had ever told her that before.
The thing Blok is going to miss most from being on the ambulance department is the personal contact, “Seeing the love and caring that shows up during difficulty,” Blok said. “I have some memories that I wish weren’t in my mind but seeing the love people have for each other more than makes up for it.”
Throughout his tenure, Blok responded to 31 fatality accidents. He said it was tough because in a small community you know the people involved but that made him want to work that much harder.
Blok said he enjoyed working with a group of people that really respected each other. He said that was not only the crew but the First Responders they came in contact with also.
Blok’s official day of retirement is April 30.
Through all the memories the ambulance has given Blok he is looking forward to not being on call.
“It will be easier to serve my barber customers when I’m not on call,” Blok said. “My wife also likes the idea of me not being tied down so we can go visit kids and grandkids.
A little history:
The Starbuck Ambulance had its beginning in 1967. Area residents responded by contributing $12,000 to create it.
The first vehicle the ambulance used was a 1967 Buick Station Wagon which was equipped with ambulance supplies.
The vehicles changed in 1972 with a Chevy, in 1984 they used a Ford raised roof van and in 1996 they went to a modular unit.
When the ambulance went to Glenwood they got bigger vehicles.