The Boscobel Rescue Squad was formed in 1959 with six members and a 1937 Studebaker hearse for an ambulance that was purchased with $200 of borrowed money from two local businessmen. Fifty-six years later the squad is comprised of 22 members and two modern ambulances equipped with the latest in emergency medical technology.
Unfortunately, that may not be enough to keep the squad in operation if more members aren’t found who can respond to calls during normal business hours during the work week. Officials from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services have been to Boscobel twice in the past several months to express concerns with missed calls on weekdays between the hours of 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. If they have to come back a third time the squad could be discontinued by the end of the year.
“Our numbers are decent compared to when we started out, but unfortunately employers don’t allow EMTs to leave during the daytime,” said Chief Maggie Gebhard. “Most of us have jobs during the day. We’re lucky that we do have two (EMTs) that respond on a regular basis because one’s a minister and one works from home, but we’re very short on daytime coverage.”
However, two EMTs is the bare minimum for a legal crew. Ideally, the squad would like to have two EMTs and a driver respond to emergency calls.
“In the past we had Advance Transformer, which would allow their EMTs to go,” Gebhard said. “We are working with some of the other area squads because we’re not the only squad having issues with staffing, to try and get some cross credentialing.”
Cross credentialing would allow squads like Blue River and Fennimore to share EMTs with Boscobel, and vice versus, to make a legal crew.
“We’re going to be sending out letters in the utility bills next month seeing if anyone is interested in going to classes to become an EMT,” Gebhard said. “So we’re hoping to get some members that way; that’s part of our recruitment. We’re also sending out letters to area businesses to see if they would be willing to let them leave from work during the daytime hours.”
Gebhard understands that people considering becoming an Emergency Medical Technician need to make a serious commitment. Under relatively new state rules, they need to take 188 hours of classes. Two new classes—one in the daytime and one at night—began at Southwest Tech in Fennimore this week. However, there is probably still time to sign up for anyone interested. For more information people can call the Boscobel Rescue Squad’s Recruitment Coordinator, Mark Lathrop, at (608) 434-0661, or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
“One good thing is that someone is interested in going, we will pay for their schooling,” Gebhard said, “but we also ask for a two-year commitment. If anybody is interested, we would ask that they ride along with us some time just to see. They may think they’re not squeamish when they see something, but once they get on scene that may be a different story.”
Being an EMT also means being pulled away from family time.
“We never know when the calls are going to be coming in,” Gebhard said. “We never know what exactly we’re going to see. So, it’s going to take some commitment to become an EMT.”
To learn more, you might want to attend a community forum the rescue squad is hosting on Wednesday, Sept. 9. It begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at the firehouse on Wisconsin Avenue.
"If anyone from the community wants to come in and ask us questions we would be happy to answer them," she said.