Time and time again we are thoroughly impressed by the efforts, talent and loyalty to community shown by area volunteer fire departments.
A week ago Saturday we found ourselves shivering out on a very solid Burrows Lake trying to capture in pictures an ice rescue training exercise being hosted by the Little Rice Volunteer Fire Department. One by one, department members and others from Tripoli and beyond took turns playing the role of victim and rescuer. Their increased level of comfort and new knowledge became more apparent with each dive. With all the lakes and waterways in this area, and the recreational sports that take us and our vehicles on them, it’s good to know that the training and equipment exists to expedite a time-sensitive rescue if and when it’s needed.
We were equally impressed by Little Rice’s equipment, from its ambulance to an ice rescue sled purchased last year by funds provided by the Little Rice ATV Riders. New on the scene was a 2003 Polaris Ranger 6x6 off-road vehicle the department has dubbed Rescue II. Chief Larry Mathein might lament that he doesn’t even have an ATV at home, but he beams with pride over this department’s newest purchase.
A retired professional firefighter and paramedic from a Chicago suburb, Mathein continues to be amazed and certainly appreciative of the community support he’s finding in the Northwoods. Here, he says, people and groups “come to us and ask, ‘What can we do?’” The result, Mathein says, is a well equipped department that’s continually seeking to make the best use of its dollars and personnel to build a multipurpose facility that can meet the added challenges of this area’s off-road rescues and wildland firefighting. “You don’t have to have the biggest and best to get things done,” Mathein acknowledges. Small departments can meet needs and still be fiscally responsible, he observes.
Not long ago, the Tomahawk Leader was touting the accomplishments of the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department as it moved into new quarters. The Nokomis facility and the Little Rice equipment are impressive, but seem even more so when one realizes these are representative of small townships. Residents and their respective departments – all of them in this area – deserve a pat on the back for that personal commitment and dedication.
Then, after extending your own hand in congratulations, consider raising your arm as a volunteer.
While every department could undoubtedly use an extra hand or financial support, Nokomis, in particular, is currently recruiting firefighters and emergency medical first responders. No experience is needed, and training and protective equipment are provided.
As one of the Nokomis promotions notes, “Being a volunteer firefighter or emergency medical first responder offers one reward few other jobs can match. Few jobs offer you the opportunity to save a life. But as a volunteer firefighter or first responder, you could be called upon to do it at a moment’s notice. That’s why we need people with a strong desire to help others.”
There’s an informational meeting planned at 1 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Nokomis fire station, 2675 County Road L.
Jump right in and check it out.