Supporting Safety: WE Energies grant assists Rudolph department with equipment purchase
By Kris Leonhardt
RUDOLPH – A recent grant from the WE Energies Foundation is helping the Rudolph Volunteer Fire Department provide needed equipment to keep the public and department volunteers safe.
A $2,000 grant through the 2020 Rewarding Responders Grant program provided the additional funds needed to purchase a department carbon monoxide pulse oximeter.
The grant program makes it possible for departments in the WE Energies service area to purchase equipment and professional development used for an “integrated public safety initiative.”
The carbon monoxide pulse oximeter can detect carbon monoxide in a person’s bloodstream. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can become dangerous in enclosed spaces. A conventional pulse oximeter can detect the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, but cannot detect the presence of carbon monoxide.
“Our department is involved in providing EMS, as well as firefighting, services. As such, we’ve long been aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, both to the public and to our volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel. We also realized the benefits of having a carbon monoxide pulse oximeter. But the cost of the unit was a major deterrent. It always seemed like there was other EMS equipment or supplies that were higher priority items. And like most volunteer fire departments, funding to purchase new equipment is limited. So the oximeter would end up in the ‘we’ll look at it again next year’ category,” said John Steuck, Rudolph Volunteer department secretary/treasurer.
“In our area, most calls involving possible carbon monoxide exposure occur in people’s homes. Having the oximeter available to us means that we can now immediately inform people if they have levels of carbon dioxide in their bloodstream that require medical treatment. We can also monitor our firefighters and EMS personnel to help ensure their safety when they’re responding to calls where there might be a risk of carbon monoxide exposure. We consider this capability to be a major step in contributing to the health and safety of both the general public and our volunteers.”
With the cost of the oximeter over $4,700, the department conducted a unique fundraising effort through the summer; which, along with the grant funding, helped shorten the timeline to purchase.
“Our fundraising effort was filling swimming pools. We had been receiving more and more requests each year from local residents to fill their swimming pools. So we decided to charge a set fee, rather than just ask for donations. We actually didn’t publicize or advertise this service. Once people began to find out that we would fill their swimming pool, we had more requests than we could handle. We were actually able to raise the necessary funds just during this past summer. However, without the WE Energies Foundation grant funding, we estimate it would have taken us at least two years to do so,” Steuck explained.
The Rudolph Volunteer department consists of nearly 80 firefighters and emergency responders, who serve seven Wood and Portage County municipalities.