An overnight walk in firefighters' boots

(WEAU) - When late night hours roll around, many of us are going to bed.

But what about the people who work through the night, like firefighters and EMT's?

When there's a fire or an emergency, you don't think about how long these workers have been awake.

Some nights all is quiet at the Chippewa Falls and Altoona Fire Departments.

Meet Captain Shawn Loegering, who’s been an on-call firefighter in Altoona for 15 years.

"We have a pager next to our beds, when that thing goes off it scares the daylights out of you because you're not expecting it,” said Shawn Loegering, Altoona Firefighter.

After working as a fulltime Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic Health System, he goes on-call from home as do all the firefighters in Altoona.

"Sometimes it can be hard. It all depends on the day you had at work. How tired you are, what things are going on at home,” said Loegering.

In Chippewa Falls, paramedics and firefighters work 24 hours, 3 days a week.

Both departments say fires and car crashes are the easiest to wake-up and respond.

"My responsibility is to get up answer the radio, acknowledge the page from 9-1-1 centers and the appropriate vehicles are responding,” said Chippewa Falls Battalion Chief, John Taylor.

"The adrenaline is going get down get back to the station and hour and half later. It’s tough to get back to relax state to sleep,” said Bill Schultz, Chippewa Falls Paramedic/Firefighter.

In Chippewa Falls, the fire department says one of the most popular emergency calls is for an ambulance. But often times during the evening paramedics may only drive to an emergency a couple times or not at all.

"The toughest part is knowing where everyone is. If we have one ambulance and we get a second ambulance call, I have to remember where that ambulance is if they're manned, if they're available, if they're transporting," said Taylor.

But when they're not working, in the morning they clean and at night they try to relax, sleep or study.

"We have some promotional tests coming up that most of us will be studying for,” said Schultz.

I asked both departments about the worst calls they’ve had and both say they were fires that happened overnight.

"The fire on Spring Street, my partner and I were up at St. Joe's hospital and other ambulance [was] also out. We were up till midnight anyway, and didn't get discharged from until 9 that morning,” said Schultz.

The other was a building collapse in Altoona last November that left Shawn severely injured.

"I thought that night, my life flashed before my eyes. I told myself at one point I looked up and said wow this is how it’s gonna end,” said Loegering.

"You just get dressed and go,” said Schultz.


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