Here comes the cutthroat: Contest winner Colten Sheets unveils new ambulance in front of Crest Hill Elementary

By Kristy Bleizeffer May 8, 2015

Watch: Colten Sheets, 11, of Crest Hill Elementary School, unveils the new Wyoming Medical Center ambulance to Casper. Sheets picked the new ambulance animal, the cutthroat trout, by winning our illustration and essay contest last fall.

When Colten Sheets, 11, filed into the commons of Crest Hill Elementary with the rest of the school, he thought it was another awards assembly or maybe a visit by a local author.

"Then I saw all the Wyoming Medical Center staff and my mom and dad. My friends kept saying, 'I think it's the ambulance contest! I was really surprised," said Colten, winner of the hospital's contest to pick the next animal to join our ambulance herd. He picked the cutthroat trout - the first fish to grace a WMC ambulance.

At a surprise party at his school on Thursday afternoon, all of Crest Hill Elementary counted down from 5. Then, Colten and paramedics Eric Evenson and Andrea Bitner pulled back the tarp, revealing the cutthroat ambulance for his classmates, teachers and family. They were the first people in Casper to see it.

 
Colten Sheets and his family pose in front of the new ambulance.

Colten Sheets and his family pose in front of the new ambulance.

Paramedic Eric Evenson warms up the crowd at Crest Hill Elementary Thursday before unveiling the new cutthroat ambulance.

Paramedic Eric Evenson warms up the crowd at Crest Hill Elementary Thursday before unveiling the new cutthroat ambulance.

"Just the other day, I was talking to my friend about it and he wanted to know when they were going to reveal it. I had no idea it would be today," Colten said.

For years, Wyoming Medical Center has wrapped its ambulance fleet with photos of Wyoming animals. They've garnered attention from as far away as Belgium and a German toy maker made an unauthorized model of one.

We have nine ambulances and need to replace one about every year - meaning every ambulance stays on the road for almost a decade, driving hard miles as they race to and from emergencies around Natrona County. Every time a new ambulance comes in, we pick a new animal photo to wrap it in. The cutthroat trout joins our grizzly bear, bald eagle, pronghorn antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain lion and bison, forming the strangest of Wyoming herds.

To wrap the new rig, we asked elementary students to draw their favorite Wyoming animal and explain why it should go on a WMC ambulance. We received 133 entries, coming from every school in Natrona County School District. A panel of paramedics, hospital staff and school personnel culled those down to 10 finalists. Casper residents then voted Colten's cutthroat as the winner.

Colten's essay read: "I think that the Yellowstone cutthroat should be on the next ambulance because people come from all over to fish the Yellowstone cutthroat just like they come to Wyoming Medical Center to be treated with care. Also the cutthroat should be part of the herd because it is like WMC's logo representing Casper, Natrona County and Wyoming. It lives in all these places. Plus I think a fish should join the herd. Go fish!" 

Thursday, was Colten's first time to see the ambulance too: "I think it is pretty cool that I have my own little square here, and it has exactly what I wrote and my drawing," he said. "It's very detailed too. They told me it glows in the dark because of the reflectiveness, and I think it will be cool to see that riding down the street."

And, what will he think if he does pass it on the street? “There goes my ambulance!”

 

Further reading: 

Special thanks to Pat Clayton, owner of Fish Eye Guy Photography, who specializes in documenting native fish in their natural environments and who captured the cutthroat on our ambulance. Clayton has photographed cutthroat in waters all over the West. See more of his amazing work at his website, fisheyeguyphotography.com.

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