Little Rice Emergency Services Unit (ESU) ready to serve
For the Star Journal
The Little Rice Fire Department Emergency Services Unit (ESU) is a mobile canteen team that has been operational for almost 20 years, but received a real test not once, but twice this past month, as it responded to two large fires in the Nokomis area.
The ESU stands ready to respond to larger incidents in a three county area to offer cold water, Gatorade, hot drinks, and snacks to firefighters and other first responders. For incidents that span several hours, the ESU provides more substantial food, such as beef stew and pizza.
On board, the ESU sports a stovetop and coffee makers, working room for the volunteers, serving windows, a canopy for shade. Non-perishables such as water and snacks are stored on the truck so it is always ready to roll. For longer events, the ESU can fill up with supplies stored at the fire station.
The ESU is a critical component of firefighter rehabilitation on the fire ground. Firefighter rehabilitation is designed to ensure that the physical and mental well-being of members operating at the scene of an emergency does not deteriorate to the point where it affects the safety of any other members.
In the last month, the ESU assisted firefighters as they were battling first, an auto salvage yard fire, and second, a structure fire in the neighboring township of Nokomis.
Little Rice Fire Department volunteers staff the ESU, which operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week, rain or shine and responds to any community in need of its services.
Oneida County is one of several in the area that has the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) in place. MABAS is a system fire departments activate when their event, such as a fire, overtax their local capabilities. In effect, MABAS is a call for help from neighboring departments. All fire departments have preplanned “cards” which they activate to ask for additional tankers, engines, chiefs and other special operating units such as the ESU. The dispatch center activates the card when asked by the Incident Commander. The Little Rice ESU is on nearly all of the cards from fire departments as a critical part of the MABAS system. For more information on the ESU, contact Chief Larry Mathein, 715-612-5514.
The Town of Little Rice and donations from individuals, community groups and local fire departments fund the ESU. Donations to help fund the operation may be sent to:
Emergency Services Unit
Little Rice Fire Department
3737 Highway Y
Tomahawk, WI 54487