Community open house planned for Sunday to honor Burlington Rescue Squad
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Community open house planned for Sunday to honor Burlington Rescue Squad

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Burlington Rescue

A Burlington Rescue Squad ambulance parks outside the City Fire Department and Rescue Squad headquarters at 165 W. Washington St. The volunteer rescue squad ceased operations at the beginning of the year due to drastically increased call volume and a lack of volunteers.

BURLINGTON — Volunteer members of the Burlington Rescue Squad have already had a couple of private gatherings to recognize, reminisce and grieve the end of the volunteer squad’s long service to the community.

Now members of the community will have the opportunity to thank volunteers at an open house reception planned for Sunday afternoon at Veterans Terrace, 589 Milwaukee Ave.

Burlington Rescue Squad ceased operations as of midnight Jan. 1 after serving the community as a volunteer, nonprofit organization for 73 years.

The squad went from humble beginnings using a former hearse as an ambulance to an organization of about 20 volunteers facing some 1,500 to 1,600 emergency medical calls annually in recent years.

Faced with an ever-increasing call volume and the nationwide shortage of people willing to volunteer as first responders, the Burlington Rotary Club, the rescue squad’s sponsoring agency, decided in the fall to disband the squad.

The City of Burlington Fire Department assumed EMS service for the city and Town of Burlington as of Jan. 1.

Doors open for Sunday’s reception at 2 p.m. with a formal program set to start at 2:30 p.m.

The program is to feature speeches from Burlington Mayor Jeannie Hefty, Racine County Executive Jonathon Delagrave and state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, a Burlington native, is to present the resolution the Assembly adopted Tuesday honoring the squad.

Jeff Koenen and Brian Zwiebel, the two most recent chiefs of the Rescue Squad, are also scheduled to speak.

Historical display

On display at the reception will be a visual presentation about the history of the squad compiled by Burlington resident Sophia Branen.

It will include many images shot in past years by local photographer Emmett Raettig, who was an honorary member of the squad and many local first-responder agencies.

Hefty said the Rotary Club and Burlington Lions Club are providing refreshments for the event and a cash bar will be available. The event is expected to run until approximately 4 p.m.

The mayor herself is a Gold Badge member of the squad, having served as an active member from 1987-2001 and again from 2014-2019. She joined after the death of her husband Warren, who served on the squad from 1974-85.

Hefty said Sunday’s reception will not only pay tribute to those who were serving on the squad at the time it disbanded, but also all who served over the years.

Not only will residents be able to thank squad members, the reception will allow residents to visit with neighbors.

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