A chorus of gasps and cheers went up as an ambulance decked in a gradient orange and the silhouettes of soldiers entered the engine bay.
The ambulance, with the words “So Others May Live” emblazoned prominently on its side, is the newest addition to Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service’s fleet. It is wrapped with a hand-drawn design intended to honor military veterans.
“This ambulance design is a tribute to all who are serving and who have served,” Emergency Medical Technician Billy Caves said.
Muskogee County Sheriff Rob Frazier, who also spoke at the event, said the truck’s design was especially important to him as a veteran.
“As a Marine veteran, this means the world to me,” Frazier said. “When we see that thing going down the road, and we’ve got something going on in the sheriff’s office or something’s getting to me, to be able to see that truck is gonna help it be OK.”
Following speeches by Frazier, local businessman Victor Lezama, and Camp Gruber’s Command Sgt. Maj. Gordon Carlin, those who attended swarmed around the ambulance to take pictures and examine the wrap up close. Children hopped in the back of the truck to explore its interior while adults gathered outside, commenting on the colors and the decal’s symbolism.
“I think it’s really great,” Vietnam veteran Alan Lester said.
The wrap was designed by Kandis Crespy, a Muskogee EMS dispatcher and training coordinator. Crespy said she combined an EMS motto with military imagery to create the look after she was approached by special projects coordinator Michael McWilliams.
“I took sort of an EMS saying, which is ‘so others may live,’ and I thought it went perfectly with something dedicated for those who serve,” Crespy said. “I thought it sounded awesome together, so I just put it all on there — I’m very proud it came out really nice.”
Lezama called the truck’s decoration an “extreme honor” for local veterans.
“Seeing the attention to detail on the ambulance and the artwork truly shows the respect EMS has for our servicemen and women,” Lezama said. “There is no doubt that when our community see this ambulance rolling down the streets they will easily be able to tell what it stands for, our military men and women.”
Lezama said the truck will hold special meaning for veterans who returned from war and joined up with medical services. He spent time flying a helicopter for LifeFlight’s now defunct Keefeton station.
“I wanted to continue the mission,” Lezama said. “I believe a lot of us want to continue to serve our community when we get out, and what better way than to become a first responder?”
Caves noted that Muskogee County EMS currently employs nine veterans and hosts two veterans on its governing board.
“The EMS structure is similar to what we have been exposed to in the military and a lot of us crave that structure,” Lezama said. “Our men and women are some of the best trained personnel in the world and joining the EMS world is another way to continue to utilize their skills.”
Muskogee County EMS Community Relations Coordinator Trish German said she was pleased with the ceremony’s turnout — and excited about the truck’s future.
“The Muskogee people love their veterans and stand behind their veterans 100 percent,” German said, assessing the success of the event. “I’m sure we’re going to start getting phone calls once it gets out there and people want to know if the veterans’ truck can come by their PR event — we’re excited.”