When elevator breaks, Amramp of Tampa installs modular wheelchair ramp, restoring access to Winter the dolphin at Clearwater Aquarium.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida is famously the home to Winter the dolphin, star and inspiration of the hit movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. After losing her tail in an accident, Winter became the first dolphin to be fitted with a prosthetic tail. Winter’s story of courage and perseverance has made her a beacon of hope and inspiration for anyone who has overcome physical adversity.
Late one afternoon in June, Tim Smith, the facility manager at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium had an emergency situation: The existing elevator that brings aquarium guests up the second floor to see Winter had broken down. While this wasn’t an issue for able-bodied patrons, visitors in wheelchairs who were eager to see Winter were being manually carried up the stairs to the second floor. And more and more were lining up to make this dangerous trek.
With no sense of how long it would take to get the elevator repaired, Smith needed a quick solution. Late that afternoon, Debbie Vanlandingham, the manager at the Amramp franchise based in Tampa, Florida, received an urgent call from Smith.
Amramp, North America’s leading provider of modular wheelchair ramps, jumped on the case. Amramp’s installation experts arrived at the aquarium to perform a comprehensive evaluation, which included extensive measurements and photographs. They remained at the aquarium until ideal design was achieved.
Recalling her initial contact with the Aquarium, Vanlandingham said, “I’m such a sentimental fool that I couldn’t thank Tim enough for allowing Amramp to do this for Winter’s fans. I kept getting flashes in my head that actual people were being carried up in their wheelchairs. With the new ramp in place, everyone has safe access to enjoy all areas of the aquarium.”
Amramp installer Paul Ellison was on site early the next morning. With only the staff and star attractions like Winter and her marine peers present, Ellison got to work. Part of the installation process brought him face-to-face with the dolphins’ habitat. Winter and friends were on hand to oversee the installation process and provide Ellison with lots of vocal encouragement. “I felt like they were thanking me,” said Ellison.
“The beauty of it was that we were able to complete the entire installation in less than 24 hours,” said Vanlandingham, “By the time the Aquarium reopened on Wednesday the ramp was already in place and operational.”
Amramp ramps are designed to be installed quickly without requiring any modifications to the existing structure or surroundings and leave no sign or destruction behind when the ramp is removed. Amramp’s patent-pending steel modular wheelchair ramps are available for purchase or rental, short-term for as little as 24 hours for events like graduations, vacation rentals.
The ramp installed at Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a temporary modular rental ramp. This completed ramp runs 36 feet long with a 4-foot-by-4-foot turning platform designed to transport guests in wheelchairs safely to the second floor of the Aquarium to see Winter.
Since the environment for humans in an aquarium can be on the damp side, Amramp ramps are ideal: The open mesh ramp surface provides needed traction and allows moisture to pass through easily. The ramp also features a raised gripping pattern, as well as a special Amramp-grip coating to the ramp surface, making the ramp at the Aquarium the most slip resistant ramp available.
Vanlandingham can’t image any other career. “All I do is help people design ramps,” she said. “Ultimately when someone is able to go on a ramp…it should be like floating on air for them. When you’re in a wheelchair, you should be able to bypass any obstacle that may cross your path. It’s so simple for me to put something down, so you don’t have any obstacles, that’s my reward.”
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