News: Neillsville - CVTC Donates to Local Fire Departments (2022)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon


Surnames: Douglas, Beaton-Garcia, Schwartz, Stendahl, Martell, Mompier

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 11/09/2022

CVTC Donates Money and Supplies to Local Fire Departments (2022)

Sunem Beaton-Garcia, Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) president (2nd from r): Mark Schwartz, CVTC fire training and EMS continuing education manager (r); and Kaela Stendahl, CVTC Foundation representative (l); present two buckets full of decontamination supplies to firefighter-paramedics at Chippewa Falls Fire and Emergency Services Station No. 1 on Oct. 4. With the help of college staff, alumni and local businesses, Stendahl raised more than $4,700-enough for 66 buckets to outfit almost, if not all, fire stations in the CVTC district, including Neillsville and several others in Clark County. Submitted photo

Chippewa Falls Fire Chief Lee Douglas remembers when having black soot on his helmet was a badge of honor.

“I call it foolish now, but that’s exactly what we did,” Douglas told Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) employees after accepting items from the college to decontaminate after a fire. “That was kind of our way of saying, ‘Hey, look at me. I put out a fire.’ Now things like these buckets give us that opportunity to not carry that stuff with us.”

CVTC president Sunem Beaton-Garcia, fire training and EMS continuing education manager Mark Schwartz and CVTC Foundation representative Kaela Stendahl presented Chippewa Falls Fire and Emergency Services with two five-gallon buckets full of items like a self-retracting water hose, dish soap, a scrub brush and special shampoo on Oct. 4.

Those buckets were two of 66 that the CVTC Foundation planned to distribute to fire stations throughout the CVTC district, which includes about three-quarters of Clark County. CVTC serves Neillsville, Greenwood, Thorp and Owen-Withee, as well as the more rural communities surrounding those towns.

“Neillsville got a bucket, along with any other fire department in Clark County that is within CVTC’s district,” Schwartz said.

Purpose of new supplies

Firefighters nowadays know to scrub and rinse their gear after fighting fires but having the right items on the rig (a vehicle used in transporting firefighters to the scene of an incident) might not be top of mind. Schwartz and Stendahl put their heads together to change that.

“I originally got the idea from the state of Florida, which issued one of these buckets to every single fire engine in the state,” Schwartz said. “We’re using a lot of synthetics when we’re building houses now, like rubbers and glues, and when it burns, it just turns into cancer-causing materials. When these firefighters are going into a structure fire, they’re wearing all of that stuff. Now they can wash it off before they even get back in the truck.”

Once Schwartz was satisfied with his research, his first call was to Stendahl.

“When Mark approached the Foundation … we were happy to assist in raising funds so he could purchase the supplies needed for the buckets,” Stendahl said. “I’m pleased to share that we raised more than $4,700 for this project, with the CVTC Alumni Association as our largest sponsor.”

Many firefighters in the CVTC district of 11 counties are alumni. An estimated 50% of the Chippewa Falls Fire Department firefighter-paramedics are graduates of CVTC, which has a campus in Neillsville.

Beaton-Garcia thanked Nate Martell, firefighter paramedic lieutenant; Nick Mompier, firefighter paramedic; and the entire firefighter paramedic team in Chippewa Falls for putting their lives at risk daily.

“This is a small part of what we can do to show support for first responders,” Beaton-Garcia said.
“Thank you so much for everything you do for our community. We wanted to make sure that we give you our best so you can be your best.”




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