Lake Henry Fire Department becomes certified

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/11/98.

The Lake Henry Fire Department has served the area since 1938. With the changing needs of the community, 12 members recently completed a ďFirst RespondersĒ course.

The department has 22 members. They saw the need to help out the community in another mode besides fighting fires.

The 12 volunteers started the First Responder course at the Lake Henry Fire Department in January, completing the 40-hour course in March. Their instructor was Pat Evans from the St. Cloud Technical College. The training included CPR, trauma, back boarding, bleeding control, bloodborne and airborne pathogens, childbirth, airway obstruction, principles of assessment and recognizing injuries.

First Responder emergency care also deals with illnesses such as recognizing heart attacks, strokes, problems due to excess heat and cold, respiratory illnesses and drug abuse.

Volunteer firemen taking the course were: Jeff Dahl, Jamey Brick, Dale Wessel, Robert Pelzer, Kenny Ley, Amy Weidner, Pat Welle, Bob Schmitt, Kurt Frieler, Dan Liebl, Dale Olmscheid, and Dave Hess.

The Lake Henry First Responders were activated on May 5. Their first year is considered a probation period. Ambulance personnel from Paynesville, Elrosa, St. Martin, and Belgrade will answer calls with the Lake Henry First Responders through a mutual aid agreement.

ďDuring our probation period, more than one group will attend calls so we can receive extended training,Ē Pelzer said.

At the end of the probation period, the First Responders will provide a list of calls they made to the city of Lake Henry and Lake Henry Township Board. At that time, they will need to decide if they want the First Responders to become a full rescue squad. If they do, then additional equipment will need to be purchased.

Donations from Lake Henry Lions Club and Paynesville Ambulance Service, made the transition possible for the Lake Henry Fire Depatment to become First Responders.

ďIt think itís great for a small town to have an interest in such a program,Ē Amy Weidner said.

Weidner is the only female on the squad and the newest recruit to the Lake Henry Fire Department. ďThe men have really been good about my joining the department,Ē she said. ďIíve always been interested in serving the community. Lake Henry doesnít have an ambulance crew and this is one way we can benefit the community.Ē

The First Responders program was developed to provide trained individuals with the skills necessary to begin assessing and caring for patients at the scene of injury or illness until ambulance personnel could arrive.

A First Responder is part of the emergency medical system (EMS). First Responders are trained to reach patients, find out what is wrong, provide emergency care, and, only when necessary, move patients without causing further injury.

A First Responder may be a law enforcement officer, a member of the fire department, a company or union employee, or a private citizen who volunteers to help the EMS system.

First Responders have four main duties, including gaining access to the patient, finding out what is wrong with the patient and providing emergency care, moving patients (when necessary) and transferring the patient and patient information when more highly trained personnel arrive at the scene.

The Lake Henry First Responders will serve the same contract area as the fire department: city of Lake Henry, Lake Henry Township, 21 percent of Zion Township and 16 percent of Spring Hill Township.

The current fire chief of the Lake Henry Fire Department is Bob Pelzer. Other officers are Art Hopfer, assistant chief; Dave Hess, second chief; Alvin Meyer, secretary; and Scott Weidner, treasurer.

The fire department has three trucks: a 1984 tanker with a 2,000 gallon capacity; a 1978 pumper which can pump 750 gallons per minute and a 1974 grass rig.

The department has a new 2,000 gallon pumper/tanker ordered which should arrive in September.

The Lake Henry Fire Department was organized in November of 1938 with 22 members. Their first fire truck was a 1956 Chevy which carried 500 gallons of water.

The Lake Henry Fire Department members said they are always looking for new members. They meet the first Monday of every month for a meeting and have a training session the third Monday of the month.

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