What’s this and what does it do?

Emergency personnel from Tomah and Fort McCoy got the chance to show off some of the equipment they use and share what they do with the public Thursday at the Hometown Heroes event at Firemen’s Park.

Tina Thompson, executive director of the Tomah Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, said the event was created to get people to interact with the city’s emergency services.

“I don’t think that they probably get enough gratitude sometimes for the late hours and all the stuff that they have to do to protect and serve us,” she said. “Also it’s something a little bit different. We wanted to engage with younger families a little bit better than we had been doing and as you can see here tonight, I think we’ve got a plethora of youngsters that are learning about all the cool stuff that there is.”

At the event people could tour ambulances, fire trucks and police cars and could get in and try a bucket truck.

Randy Dunford, director of the Tomah Area Ambulance Service, said Hometown Heroes was a great way to interact and educate the public about what emergency personnel offer a community.

“It’s just a great community event to let citizens and people know who their local heroes are, those people that serve them and help protect them, keep them safe, are there for them when they need them,” he said. “It’s just an awesome event that we really appreciate.”

Dunford said TAAS was showcasing two items at the event: a Power-LOAD system and a Lucan chest compression device. The Power-LOAD system allows for one person to press a button on a cot to load a patient into the ambulance, and a Lucas chest compression device performs CPR compressions, allowing time for a two-person team to administer medication, load the patient, focus on respirations, etc.

Dunford said it’s an honor to work with the EMTs and paramedics.

“They’re such dedicated and passionate people, and I just enjoy the fact that I’m able to work with them, get them the equipment that they need to do their job, make sure they get the training and everything they need to do their job,” he said. “It’s just an awesome opportunity. I’m really fortunate.”

Sergeant Jarrod Furlano has worked for the Tomah Police Department for 11 years. He said working in law enforcement is something he’s always wanted to do and has been fortunate to be able to reach a lot of goals in Tomah.

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Furlano enjoyed interacting with community members at the event Thursday in a positive way.

“We deal with a lot of the negative aspects, and we don’t get to see a lot of the support that we actually have, so these events are nice to bring us and the citizens we don’t always get to see together,” he said.

Station chief of the Fort McCoy Fire Department Andrew Leskey also enjoyed interacting with the community and showing off what equipment they have.

“Ultimately all of this equipment is funded by taxpayer dollars, and it gives the community a chance to take a look at their investment and how it serves their community,” he said. “So I think it’s a good thing, it’s worthwhile.”

Being a firefighter is a rewarding experience, Leskey said.

“It’s an exciting job that you can help people; it’s different every day,” he said. “It’s a rewarding experience to be able to help in your community, and to be there during people’s worst days can be your best day, and you can make a tragedy just a little bit better. It’s a very rewarding experience. That’s why we love our jobs.”

Loren Sauter attended with her three daughters, and as a nurse at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said it was nice to see the other side of things.

“I think this is a great idea, especially for kids, to just see how the stuff works so they’re less afraid in the unfortunate event they might ever need it, so that’s pretty neat,” she said. “Just to meet the personnel also, it’s nice to be able to thank them and everything.”

Ashley Weber, who attended with her two children, agrees. She enjoys the educational aspect of the event.

“I like that they do these kinds of things, it’s something to do so you’re not at home all summer,” she said. “The kids need the activity to be outside, moving around, doing something. They’re learning things too, so it’s nice.”

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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