JUNEAU –Dodge County executive committee considered the possibility of helping to fund a regional water rescue team Tuesday morning.
Representatives from Beaver Dam Fire Department, Watertown Fire Department, Hustisford Fire Department and Fox Lake Fire Department were at the meeting, although only Beaver Dam Fire Chief Alan Mannel spoke.
Mannel said that when he became chief, the police and fire commission asked him to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the department.
“One of the weaknesses I identified was water rescue,” he said.
He said that in the event of an emergency where a department in Dodge County needed a dive team for a rescue, one would have to be called in from another county. He said it could take more than an hour for that team to arrive. At that point, they would be performing recovery rather than rescue.
Some of the departments have some water rescue equipment, including a hovercraft in Beaver Dam. However, Mannel explained that the hovercraft was a prototype that is now 12 years old and breaks down often.
“For any one department to tackle this, it’s going to be too big of a nut to crack,” Mannel said.
He suggested at least partial funding from the county would be necessary, comparing the proposed team to the current HAZMAT team.
Board supervisor Jeff Schmitt spoke to the committee in favor of the idea, saying that the representatives demonstrated the need and enthusiasm. He said that the benefit would be to the people who live on the lakes, as well as anyone who went out on the water for recreation purposes.
“In today’s day and age, I think the public has a reasonable expectation for, and a need for this type of service,” Schmitt said.
The committee agreed and stated that one of their members needed to be a part of the committee of fire chiefs that is proposing the team in order to get more information and keep the rest of the committee informed throughout the process.
Committee chairman Russ Kottke said that they needed more information, but suggested that it could possibly be considered for the 2014 budget.
In other business, County Administrator Jim Mielke said the search for a new director of the Human Services and Health Department is coming to a close. First interviews were last week and two candidates were invited back for second interviews today. He expects a resolution to the on the agenda for the March 19 county board meeting.
“We had a real strong applicant pool. I’m pleased with where we are,” Mielke said.