Jim's Legacy: Establishing a Local Ambulance Service and Training Emergency Responders

March 18, 2017 11:04 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- The Southeast Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Conference was held at the Mayo Civic Center Saturday. The theme: “Heroes Among Us.” They took the time to honor Jim Cooper, a local Spring Valley hero and his family for their generosity.

Cooper passed away almost two years ago, but his family is doing what they can to carry on his passion for EMS work. 


"I remember coming home from a call when we lived in Caledonia, Minnesota and Jim said 'All I want to do is run an ambulance service,'" Jim Cooper’s wife Judy Cooper said.

Cooper got his wish shortly after that. The Coopers moved to Spring Valley where Cooper became the ambulance director for 26 years.

"It was his calling he always told me that there was nothing else that he wanted to do in his life than what he was doing there," Cooper’s daughter Jodi Wiemerslage said.

Cooper dedicated his career to saving lives, and instructing others, while starting up the ambulance service in Spring Valley.

"When dad was still alive when we had our ambulance service we would meet at an old garage at an old gas station and we used to lay old wool blankets on the floor to do training and we finally said 'we need more than this," Judy Cooper said.

Cooper and the community raised money and finally built a new service building in the early 2000s. His family created the Jim Cooper EMS Foundation after he passed away in 2015. They want to carry on his legacy and honor him by donating money to rural ambulance facilities for equipment and to honor EMTs.

"We were completely shocked, it was quite an honor," Caledonia Ambulance Director Mike Tornstrom said.

The Jim Cooper EMS Foundation gave their first donation of twenty five hundred dollars to the Caledonia Ambulance Service; the first place Cooper worked as an EMT.

"I’m glad they recognized where he started and where it all started," Tornstrom said.  

It was a way to give back, but also to honor Cooper’s lifetime of work.

"He was very, very wholeheartedly involved and personally involved and wanted to promote and help and encourage people to do more," Wiemerslage said

Cooper’s family said they'd carry on that legacy.

"Our crew is very gracious to the cooper family. Thank you for thinking of us," Tornstrom said.

Tornstrom told ABC 6 News that Caledonia will use the money to purchase new supplies so the ambulance service can run at a higher and more efficient level.


Elise Romas

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