In 1979, the Waunakee Area EMS was chartered, providing emergency medical service to the village and surrounding towns.
Forty years later on June 26, a crowd of community members, past and present EMTs and their families gathered at the Waunakee EMS Station to dedicate the Waunakee Area EMS Volunteer Recognition memorial.
Service Director Scott Russell welcomed the crowd, noting that during the first year with the 20 original members, the district served 8,850 citizens, and the EMS responded to 255 calls.
Today, approximately 21,735 citizens live within the Waunakee EMS District, and for the year 2019, the Waunakee EMS is on track to recording 1,300 calls.
Russell explained that the district is owned and operated by six municipal governments, including the Town of Westport, Village of Waunakee, Village of Dane, and the towns of Dane, Vienna and Springfield (WWDDVS).
As he looked around at the crowd, Russell said he saw the faces of volunteers and family members who supported their loved ones.
The monument, he said, will be a permanent reminder of the commitment and selflessness on the part of the volunteers.
It includes the names of the original members, along with those who have served 15 years or more.
“EMS really is a thankless calling,” he said, adding that EMTs don’t always get recognition.
“Day and day out we answer to the page no matter the weather,” Russell added. “I’ve always viewed EMTs as the unsung heroes.”
The EMTs get few accolades, he added, and with the monument, the EMTs should accept the accolades it represents.
Roger Schmidt, WWDDVS commission chair, then spoke to the crowd.
“We all agreed this would be a good way to give back,” he said about the monument, and thanked EMT Vaughn Frye, a 28-year EMS member, for leading the project.
Frye then thanked all who helped see the project to fruition.
Six community members then participated in the unveiling, including:
-Ann Helt, the village president in 1977 who worked with the municipalities to create the district;
-Mike Helt, EMS member for 39 years;
-Dr. Mel Pearlman, EMS medical director for 28 years;
-Nila Frye, representing the family of volunteers;
-Dick Schmitz, original member of the Waunakee Area EMS;
-Roger Schmidt, WWDDVS commission chair.
Waunakee EMTs have had an impact on thousands of area residents throughout the years, responding during critical times. With their names now set in stone, their contributions will never be forgotten.