Special Note: This article is based on an interview with Kylee Nielsen, Squad Chief at the Kennard Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. And, Kylee went to great lengths to turn the spotlight from her to the other members who make up the entire Department. She selflessly wanted us to include that everyone was asked to add their thoughts for this article.
The town of Kennard harbors a legacy of selfless service, a legacy that has been kept aflame since 1909 by the dedicated members of the Kennard Fire Rescue. Squad Chief Kylee Nielsen has provided us with a unique opportunity to delve deeper into this time-honored institution, revealing the spirit of community service, the resilience, and the vision that have become its hallmarks.
The Calling to Serve
According to Kylee, what lures most people to join the Kennard Fire Rescue isn’t glamour or the thrill, but a simple, heartfelt desire to serve their community. As she explains, “A lot of the members stated they wanted to give back to the community whether they grew up here or moved here later in life.” This statement encapsulates the raw determination and selflessness that characterizes the team, with their motivations rooted deeply in their love for the community and its people.
The Rescue’s Guiding Mission
The mission of the Kennard Fire Rescue, as articulated by Kylee, speaks volumes about the values and dedication of its members. She shares, “The members signed on the line to become a volunteer because they wanted to make sure the wellbeing their community, their neighbors and people in the Kennard Fire District receive the best care possible.” This mission has been a guiding light for the team, driving them forward despite the numerous challenges they face.
Challenges that Test Resilience
No journey is without its hurdles, and the Kennard Fire Rescue team is no stranger to these. The most prominent issues, according to Kylee, are manpower and communication. “During the day, we thankfully have mutual aid with the surrounding departments…but we all work different schedules whether its days, nights, mid shifts, its just hard to know when people will be around.” These challenges, however, only serve to strengthen the team’s unity and resolve.
Memorable Incidents that Illuminate the Human Touch
Squad Chief Nielsen recounts a particular incident that underscores the essence of their service, reminding us that sometimes it’s the small gestures that can make a world of difference: “One answer that I thought was amazing was one saying a young man on our team helping an older patient blow his nose because he was unable. It’s amazing what little gestures people notice.” This story is a poignant example of the extraordinary humanity that underscores their operations.
Leveraging Technology for Efficient Operations
Over the years, the Kennard Fire Rescue has embraced technology to enhance their operations. From electronic state-run reports that expedite on-scene operations to a new radio system that facilitates clearer communication with outside departments, the team has successfully integrated technological advancements into their work. Kylee praises these updates, highlighting how they’ve reduced delays and improved emergency response.
Ensuring Mental Health and Well-being
The mental well-being of their team is also a top priority. “We have a group chat that is open to the department. After a tough call they are always followed up with or we make sure to let others know if they see or hear something to say something,” shares Kylee, illustrating their proactive approach to maintaining the emotional health of their members.
Engaging with the Community
Outside their life-saving operations, the Kennard Fire Rescue plays a crucial role in community events and education programs, like fire prevention sessions at Arlington Schools and the annual Fish Fry & Pancake Feed. Such involvement bolsters their connection with the community, fostering a sense of unity and mutual support.
A Vision for a Hopeful Future
Looking towards the future, Kylee expresses aspirations of growth, recruitment & retention, becoming an even stronger team, and an imminent significant addition – a new ambulance. As she beams with excitement, “We should have it in action, mid September and its been a long time coming! First new one Kennard has ever had!”