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Officials pleased with new full-time emergency coverage in Walworth area

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Kayla Bunge
February 21, 2010
— Nick Maise responded to two emergency calls within two hours of starting as the paid daytime firefighter and EMT at the Walworth Fire Station on Jan. 18.

In the first call, an elderly man needed medical attention after falling outside his home.


In the second, a man complaining of chest pains needed to go to the hospital.


Maise and the police secretary, who also is a certified EMT, responded to the possible heart attack, while a crew of volunteers responded to the fall and arrived not long after.


Officials in the village and town of Walworth say they are pleased with the way the new paid-on-premises fire and rescue service is working. It’s easing their worries about not having enough paid-on-call volunteers available during daytime hours to respond to fires, car accidents and medical emergencies, they said.


“It’s working like we’d wanted it to work,” said Chris Severt, emergency services director in Walworth. “We’ve already accomplished a lot of what we said we wanted to accomplish.


“They’re out the door within about two minutes. It’s absolutely crucial. Before, (the police secretary) could run over, get an ambulance out and wait for the next person; it could have been three to four minutes. Now, they’re ready to roll within two minutes.


“Time is of the essence in most of these cases.”


The employee

Maise is well acquainted with the area and the local fire and rescue departments.


Maise of Sharon is a captain of the Sharon Fire Department, where he has worked for 10 years, and a member of the Delavan Rescue Squad, where he has worked for five years.


He said he applied for the full-time job in Walworth because it was a good fit. He liked the idea of working in a small community in a familiar area, meeting new people and improving public education outreach to businesses, schools and civic groups.


“I’m doing what I love to do,” he said.


Maise grew up across the street from the fire station in Sharon. As a boy, he watched the firefighters and paramedics rush to the station and leave in trucks and ambulances.


“I’ve just always had an interest,” he said. “I just like helping people in the community.”


The operation

Maise staffs the fire station about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. He—along with police secretary Rhonda Schwartz and any paid-on-call volunteers who are available—respond to all fire and rescue calls during that time.


If there’s a medical emergency, Maise and Schwartz can leave immediately in an ambulance. Volunteers can respond in a second ambulance, if necessary.


If there’s a fire, Maise jumps on the engine with volunteers, and Schwartz hops in an ambulance.


Maise also will be responsible for data entry, conducting fire inspections and teaching fire prevention and resuscitation techniques at schools and businesses or for other groups.


“We’re learning as we go,” Severt said. “We’re developing a list of tasks that will need to be done daily, weekly, monthly. We’re figuring it out. We’re starting at the ground and building up. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility.”


The results

Officials are glad to see quicker response.


“It’s really going well,” said Larry Austin, a Walworth Town Board supervisor and member of the rescue squad. “It’s been a big help to all of us around during the day. … It really, really addresses the problem we have here.”


“We were expecting to have pretty much a first response (team) during the day—when we have limited volunteers—and we got it,” said Pat Hubertz, a Walworth Village Board trustee.


They believe Maise’s knowledge of the area and familiarity with local departments is an asset.


“He comes in without needing to do much of the introductions,” Severt said.


Total cost of the operation is about $58,000 for the year. The town and village are splitting that based on call volume. Maise is paid $17.50 an hour plus benefits.


The town this year is contracting with the village for fire and rescue coverage, but officials in both municipalities hope to transition from a contractual agreement to a partnership.


“We’re definitely open to if we want to get into more of a Walworth area fire and rescue (service) where the town and village are more consolidated,” Hubertz said. “We’re very close to that with this agreement.”


“I’d like to get to where we’re really partners,” Austin said. “We tried to do that with this contract. If costs go up or down, we want to share in it. … We want to make it as fair as possible.


“The town and the village are working together. That means more to me than anything. I’m really happy that’s happening.”



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