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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Donations To Crivitz Rescue Squad Make Headlines In North Carolina

Issue Date: April 29, 2020

(Editor's Note: The following heartwarming news article is reprinted with permission of Sharon Chance, who wrote it originally for her employer, The Brunswick Beacon, in Shallotte, N.C. to highlight Northeast Wisconsin's generous response to need of Crivitz Rescue Squad, Inc. (CRS) for equipment to help personnel safely assist those they serve during the coronavirus pandemic. In the story, it is obvious that Chance was impressed by the information obtained from her sister, Denise Boone Busse, who is a very active member of CRS.

CRS is a volunteer based, non-profit 501c3 emergency medical services (EMS) organization servicing the Crivitz area and part or all of the towns of Beaver, Lake, Middle Inlet, and Stephenson, covering a 198 square mile area. Volunteer staff provides around-the-clock emergency medical response coverage and serves as the primary EMS response in its service area. Current staff of 32 includes one full-time paid employee (Busse) who is responsible for various record keeping, maintenance, and general operation activities in addition to duties as an EMT-IV.

Since its creation in 1953 the organization has been owned and operated by its general membership, and is not directly affiliated with the municipalities it serves, or outside organizations.

In her article headlined "Generosity of small community touches EMS workers struggling to keep on keeping on," Chance wrote:

"With such dire news reports regarding the scarcity of personal protective gear for health care workers and first responders, I felt compelled to share this series of events my sister had the pleasure to experience as she sought desperately to find masks, gloves and other necessary items during so much uncertainty in our "new reality'," Chance wrote.

"First, you need to understand my sister's tenacity. She does not accept excuses, ineptitude or politicians' platitudes. She has what you might consider a laser-beam determination. More times than not, she gets what she wants."

The article continued: "Please let me introduce Denise Boone Busse, my baby sister who lives in the small village of Crivitz, Wi. approximately 50 miles north of the Green Bay Packer's Lambeau Field. You can reach Lambeau heading south along U.S. 141 within an hour, depending on who's driving. With my brother-in-law, you are likely to be unpacking the van within 45 minutes or less. (This is imperative as my husband is a lifelong, rabid Packer's fan. Yes he has a "Chedda" hat.) Crivitz hosts a population of 984 according to the 2010 Census. Settled by a German immigrant in 1883, an influx of Polish immigrants were drawn to the area along the Peshtigo River following the typhoid epidemic of 1894.

"My sister volunteered with the Crivitz Rescue Squad for many years. She now serves as the EMS coordinator. Her dedication exceeds loyalty to her job; she rises between 5 and 6 a.m. every weekday to be on call for the rescue squad before reporting to her office at 8 and working often into the evenings, when she is likely to be responding to yet another emergency. She keeps her paramedic shoes in the bathroom where she can easily attend to two tasks simultaneously should her pager go off.

"After several unsuccessful attempts to catch her by phone or text, I finally received this message:

"Hi Sheri. Sorry. My schedule has not been my own lately. Tried to send this earlier, but got paged out (summoned to an emergency call). Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have been instructed to wear on every single call, gloves, gowns, face shields or goggles and the appropriate mask (N95 preferred), but due to the shortage we were presented with two options: 1. Wear a surgical mask when not doing aerosoling procedures, nebulizers, assisted ventilations. 2. Restrict use of N95 masks when possible."

Denise's message continued, "With very little recourse, responders are now limiting the use of each N95 to five uses. Please note, these protective gear were never intended to be reusable. Each crew member now keeps a paper bag with his or her name printed on it. After each use, they place their masks into the bags. Once a new call is received, the responders pull out their precious masks and proceed with the emergency at hand."

The news article explained: "Crivitz Rescue Squad is a small organization that runs an average of 600 calls a year. The nearest hospital is at least 30 minutes away, depending where in the 187 square miles of the squad's assigned area you happen to find yourself. The squad cares for five communities with varying populations depending on the season and the weather.

"My sister is the only full-time employee and the squad has one part-time assistant, Krista Arndt. Crivitz Rescue Squad is one of eight rural rescues squads in Marinette County and performs at the Advanced EMT level.

"In layman's terms, the rescue personnel are qualified to start IV medications and fluids, usually while traveling down some of the state's bumpiest, often ice-coated roads. The squad is owned by its membership and governed by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

"The bond between the eight rescue units is much like that of a family. We help each other a lot and get a huge amount of assistance from our fire departments," my sister said. "I find it is the people we serve that are stepping up to be the real COVID warriors with their generous offers, big and small."

"Each 911 call requires three respondents, including one driver and two EMTs (emergency medical technicians). Volunteers range in age from 18 to 72 and represent an incredibly diverse group, but always come together "to work as a team once the tones drop.'"

The news story continued, "As supplies ran short, and concern settled in, my sister began a Facebook campaign to locate the protective gear the squad needed. Within days, friends and strangers stepped up with offers to donate or barter severely needed equipment."

The article then quoted some of the generous responses:

"I see you are looking for PPE (personal protective equipment) for your squads. Join the Wisconsin Face Mask Warriors on Facebook and you can request homemade face masks at no charge. We also have a group of people making face shields at no cost. Please reach out to our group!"

"Hi there! I'm working with a group in Lakewood that makes masks (3D and cloth) as well as face shields for the community and for fire/EMS. Are you still in need of PPE in these areas? If so, please let me know, we would love to help if we can."

"We have more than 50 for you. Also we have a former police officer that lives in Suamico and he is coming to pick some up too. He said he will pick yours up too so you don't have to run this far. Can I have a number he can text? His name is Bill Bongle."

"I have purchased these face shields for you. I hope they will work! (If they're not ok, I can cancel). They are supposed to be delivered by the 28th. It is addressed to the Crivitz Rescue Squad, but my name is also on there, just so you know."

"Thank you, for all you do."

"The attached shows a number for ordering face shields from a company in DeForest (near Madison). If funds or pickup are needed, please post the specifics. Good luck."

"Hey, how many supplies and what type do you need. We can probably help you. I should say I work with Berlin Health in Lakewood. We have a group of people making masks both cloth that can use a filter and 3D masks and I have some face shields. We are all taking care of each other."

"Hi! This is Mary from Niagara Area Emergency Unit. Were you able to get any supplies from the state? Helen Pullum has sent an email out for wish lists for supplies. I know we were able to get a second delivery today. I may be able to send a few coveralls your way. We bought some before we got supplies. I may have masks for you too. What else do you need?"

Mary again. "How are you doing for gloves? I know we have extras of those."

"We can send down a box of N95 and 15 coveralls. Sorry it isn't much but hope it will help. Are you interested in the homemade cloth masks?" Mary once more.

"HI! My name is Nikki Rueckl and I'm working NE Wisconsin 3D Protective Face Shields fb group. We are making the face shields. We have our suppliers donated so they are free. Let me know how many you need, and I will get them together for you."

The article noted in the midst of the generosity of strangers, local pharmacist Ezra Gruszynski stepped up with a $1,200 donation to assist the squad to purchase, if they could be located, additional protective gear. Chance wrote: ""Gruszynski of Crivitz Pharmacy, a small business owner, also donated several bottles of hand sanitizer. Given the current state of affairs, we all know how painfully impossible it is to locate antibacterial sanitizer."

"We are incredibly grateful to Ezra Gruszynski of Crivitz Pharmacy," wrote Denise on the squad's Facebook page. "What a wonderful community we live in."

"This donation will greatly help offset the increased cost of supplies and extra equipment needed to keep members of the rescue squad safe while responding to calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remaining funds will be used toward the continuing effort to purchase and maintain quality medical equipment. CRS is very grateful for their support," Busse noted that Crivitz Pharmacy has remained open during the pandemic, and customers may wait in their cars while employees deliver their prescriptions.

Busse's post concluded: "We are proud of our community and the efforts to keep everyone as safe as possible during this trying time. Stay safe at home and keep washing those hands. Let's not give this virus a chance in the north woods."

Chance concluded her news article: "So as I sit in my home, isolated and six feet from everyone I know and love, I am reminded that I should be eternally grateful for individuals like my sister and her companions, for their enduring courage and willingness to be the first at the scene of illness, death and disaster. Thank you is not enough."

(Editor's Note: Yes, it is wonderful to be surrounded by so many generous human beings, and to be reminded of it at a time like this. Thank you, Denise Busse, for all that you and your fellow Rescue Squad workers do, and thank you, Sharon Chance, for sharing this story with us, and with your readers in North Carolina.)




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