Local Emergency Responders Upgrade Facilities Submitted: 05/19/2013
LITTLE RICE - Summer can be a busy time for first responders, especially in places with a great outdoors. As the demand for emergency services grows, some local fire crews and EMTs are updating their facilities. The Little Rice Fire Department upgraded their canteen unit. It's carries water, gatorade and food to keep crews fueled out in the field. Plum Lake gave the department a $6,000 grant.

Plum Lake Resource supervisor Bill O'Brion also works at the department. The new unit will be an asset for all neighboring firefighters. "We've done lots of funding for different fire departments, but this is a unique project where the emergency service unit will respond to any fire department that needs the assistance or surrounding areas if they ask for help." O'Brion said. Fire Chief Bob Reimert says this is not only essential to the community, but it keeps his staff busy as well. "It's just what the people needed. It keeps the elderly people on our department busy," said Reimert. "It gives them something to do. It gives them a part in the department which they need." The canteen unit is stocked full and ready to go. And The Crandon Area Rescue Squad can now comfortably house all it's members. They built a $1 million, 5,200 square foot addition. They also remodeled the existing 2,500 square foot building into sleeping rooms for the EMTs. About five years ago the squad found itself outgrowing the old building. "We had people that wanted to join that lived too far out and they either had to stay in town. But there was no place for them to stay because they didn't have relatives or anybody here. So they used to sleep either on the floor or on a couch that was there," says DeElda Okrasinski, Crandon Area Rescue Squad President. The squad has 21 members who serve Crandon and surrounding areas. They received a grant that covered about half the million-dollar cost. But they plan to hold some fundraising events in the future to help pay off the rest.

Story By: Shardaa Gray and Lyndsey Stemm

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