Silver Lake Village Board discusses fire/rescue relationship

silver-lake-fd-doorSome of the people in the seats behind the dais may have changed, but Wednesday’s discussion by the Silver Lake Village Board of fire and rescue services trod some well worn ground for anyone who has been observing the issue in recent years.

Also not surprising, no consensus on how to handle the future was developed, though village President Bruce Nopenz, newly elected in April, vowed to change that aspect of the ongoing controversy.

“Things have not worked they way we have expected them too,” Nopenz said. “We have problems and we need to fix them. With this on my watch, I want to get this resolved.”

sl-rescue-squad-backAt the core of the debate Wednesday was the issue of who is in charge of medical calls responded to by the fire department and the rescue squad.

The fire department is operated by the village government, but does not provide emergency medical services beyond a first responder level. The village contracts with Silver Lake Rescue Squad, Inc., a private not for profit company, for EMS.

Fire department officers contend a unified command is called for at medical calls, and fire department personnel should fill that role. Rescue squad representatives contend their medical director and the state EMS oversight entity says the rescue squad should be in charge of the medical aspects of a call.

“Once we are on the scene, we are in charge of the medical call,” said Laura Johnson, president of Silver Lake Rescue Squad, Inc.

In recent years, this conflict has most often come up in cases where one entity feels a paramedic squad should be called in and the other feels that is not necessary.

No resolution or agreement on future action was finalized at Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting, but Nopenz strongly suggested that action on the issue is coming.

“Unless we can get this thing working together, we will have to look for another solution,” Nopenz said. One possible solution, explored to much controversy in the past, is contracting with Town of Salem Fire/Rescue for fire protection and EMS.

Or maybe, there’s still a chance of working our something less drastic.

“We’re all grown ups,” said SLFD officer Allen Dunski from the audience. “We all need to work together.”



  1. Bernard Punsley says:

    Let’s make one thing PERFECTLY CLEAR here to village of Silver Lake residents. Silver Lake Rescue Squad is NOT willing to UPGRADE to PARAMEDIC LEVEL SERVICE, and will CONTINUE to tell us that we DO NOT need PARAMEDICS and that the state of Wisconsin will NOT allow us to have them. SALEM FIRE & RESCUE will provide that level of service to us. SLRS steadfastly REFUSES to operate under a UNIFIED COMMAND STRUCTURE, under the authority of the village board. Translation, village board “contract” with SLRS, but basically, has no authority or control over how they operate. Imagine that same scenario with police, fire, public works, village hall staff, etc. and you can easily see how our village board’s hands are tied. SLSR has basically told the board “you cannot tell us what to do”…and “we will not abide by anything you do tell us”. Bizzare?
    You bet. Our board needs to address this situation IMMEDIATELY. If the new board member thought “fire and rescue are going to work together nicely”, this meeting should have cleared up any misconceptions they might have had!

  2. Bernard Punsley says:

    Let me see if I understand this correctly. On a medical emergency call, one entity(fire or rescue) might feel a paramedic level response is required, one entity may feel paramedics are not needed. What if that entity(fire or rescue)feeling that paramedics are needed is CORRECT, and they are not allowed to make that decision,because the other entity does not agree that paramedics are needed. Are you willing to “take that gamble” with your medical emergency, your kids? It’s Medical Mediocrity at it’s best, kind of “Russian Roulette” with your life. Do we need to roll paramedics for a “sprained ankle”? No. If it’s your 90 year old mom that feel down the stairs and “sprained her ankle”……what do you think? Ask yourself this question : WHY does Silver Lake Rescue Squad NOT want Silver Lake Fire Dept. members to determine paramedics are needed? This is all about a power struggle folks, with your emergency care being batted back and forth like a ping pong ball. Bring in Salem Fire & Rescue NOW to end this silly “game”.

  3. reality says:

    The issue at hand is not who is right or wrong, but in reality who is actually trained to make the EDUCATED ASSESSMENT of the patients situation. Silver Lake Fire is licensed at the FIRST RESPONDER level which is in fact 2 levels below Silver Lake Rescue Squad. I’m pretty sure that SLRS is capable of making that educated decision to call for paramedics if needed. There have been allot of crap thrown around that village by people that either don’t have a clue and are being fed a load of crap to get someone else’s wish. I come from a medical background in emergency medicine e and personnally I would trust the assessment from an AEMT with the right equipment (SLRS) over a First Responder the has minimal training, equipment and little to no experience. Mr. Nopenz should really explore the information without guys like Galich or Punzley filling his head with false information… GO and talk with hief Slovenia and see what his feelings are with SLRS and check with Randall and Wheatland and get their take on a company that has been around for many years..

  4. What a rude comment by reality. says:

    Pretty Sure? or For fact?
    Slovenia? Utter Rudeness.
    Galich, himself a paramedic and Instructor? One I would listen too above any on SLRS.
    Just how many intercepts have there been this year?
    How many NO RESPONSE by SLRS this year?
    How many instances where there SHOULD have been intercepts?
    SLRS will do all in their power to keep from having intercepts because that indicates need for paramedics.
    Any organization that will not attempt to achieve the highest level in their arena is not an organization that I would hold in high esteem.
    We have seen for years the SLRS is not willing or not able to achieve. That is a reality!
    Time for our village to move forward and onward.

  5. Bernard Punsley says:

    @reality: The “reality” is, that Silver Lake Rescue Squad CANNOT and WILL NOT provide us with PARAMEDIC LEVEL SERVICE. You cite your “medical background in emergency medicine” to bolster your assessment of our medical providers in Silver Lake, yet SLAM Mr. Galich, who in FACT, served over 30 years as a PARAMEDIC on some of the busiest PARAMEDIC units in the state of Wisconsin! I’ll take Mr. Galich’s “medical background in emergency medicine”(PROVEN) over your “background” any day of the week. Mr. Nopenz and the board would be wise to study the work of the Ad Hoc Committee and their recommendations.
    Silver Lake Rescue has already “drawn their line in the sand”. The “winds of change” keep blowing it back in their faces. They had a chance to be a key player in upgrading the fire and EMS response in our village, and chose to stifle those efforts every chance they got, and continue to do so today. If hief Slovenia, Randall and Wheatland can convince our board otherwise, well then let’s just our well established habit of maintaining the “STATUS QUO”.

  6. Chris Miller says:

    Why hide behind a fake name to state your opinion?

  7. tired of it all says:

    I have listened to this bickering for way to long.
    1)The SLRS is the most qualified to handle the medical calls – proven fact – end of subject!
    2) The State of WI will not allow just any village to be a Paramedic level Service- What is so hard to understand about this fact. – end of subject!
    3) SLRS has certain requirements they must by law follow and no one on the board can tell them to do otherwise – SLRS are the medically qualified – Otherwise anyone is the village could just go on calls and think they can treat people on medical calls – what a joke. Leave this job to the professionals!
    4) OK so in order for Salem to take over SLRS they want the Fire Dept. as well. Sounds like a no win situation to me for those working with both services. And after all the crap that has gone on since the dissolution attempt if anyone on the FD thinks Salem wants them they are in for a big disappointment.
    5) Villagers take note – If we give up all of our services we will NO LONGER NEED the Board as there will be nothing to Govern. BYE BYE Silver Lake!! Dissolvers win.
    NEW board – do your job- put this Village back together and quit trying to tear it apart. Act like the adults you claim to be- stop the stories, stop the rumors get the facts before spreading untruths. Calm the storm don’t cause the storm!

  8. Bernard Punsley says:

    Some more “Free” advice for our board(like they need any!). They should check out Silver Lake Rescue Squad financial statements and tax returns. Remember, this is a “non profit” organization. See how much money they generate CHARGING MONEY for their rescue squad calls. They DO NOT “Do it for FREE” as they would like you to believe. They pay the village the grand total of $1 to lease the building annually. They then “contract” with the village(e.g. charge the taxpayers) for $27,000/year. They then generate their profit margin by CHARGING MONEY for responding to calls. They have told the village board they will not abide by any of the rules or “requests”the board submitted, they will NOT upgrade to PARAMEDIC LEVEL SERVICE, they will NOT work as a team with the fire department, and they will NOT work under a UNIFIED COMMAND system, under the auspices of the village board.
    Meanwhile, the “mountain of cash” they are sitting on “across the tracks” continues to GROW. Think I’m kidding? Check the documents, judge for yourself.

  9. MABAS Mystery says:

    Kenosha County and surrounding county fire and rescue departments operate under a “UNIFIED COMMAND” system, called MABAS(Mutual Aid Box Alarm System). Fire and rescue units respond according to pre-determined “box cards”, which list various responses. Wherever various units are responding to, the local “INCIDENT COMMANDER” has charge of the scene and the incident, using a very structured system. Police,fire, rescue units responding are NOT allowed to “free lance” and operate however they see fit.
    What is puzzling to me, is how Silver Lake Rescue Squad is allowed to be part of the very structured MABAS system, yet REFUSE to be part of the Unified Command System in Silver Lake! Somebody explain to me how that works!?

  10. Medical Mediocrity says:

    @reality: I took Basic First Aid when I was in Scouting, took a CPR class in high school gym class, and carry a first aid kit in my car. I also watch “Emergency” on tv re-runs often, so I too can make the claim that I have “a medical background in emergency medicine”, just like you did. If you watch the show, LA County recognized in the early 1970’s that having fire departments provide PARAMEDIC LEVEL SERVICE with cross trained firefighters/paramedics was the most efficient way to go. That concept caught on slowly, but is now the norm across the country. Fire departments in Kenosha County that provide ambulance/rescue service include Kenosha, Somers, Pleasant Prairie, Bristol, and Salem. Twin Lakes Rescue works in close conjunction with Twin Lakes Fire. Virtually all of these departments work as a TEAM to provide emergency medical response to their citizens. In Silver Lake, the rescue squad does not even want the fire department responding to calls! What do they know(you know, that “medical background in emergency medicine thing”) that the REST of the county does not?

  11. John Harris says:


    I am not a Silver Lake resident, However, I live nearby and have been paying attention to this issue from the beginning. It appears that both sides are completely stuck in the MUD of petty politics and character smearing.. Great for the newspaper, terrible for the residents. The focus should be “How can we provide the BEST (Trained and Equipped) Medical response at the best price for the taxpayers who subsidize them”.. With municipal budgets ever so tight, why isn’t the primary focus on cost. Silver Lake has become a JOKE among its neighbors.. Anyone ever notice the villages surrounding your town have top notch care. Furthermore, the work is done mostly by volunteers. Time to check egos at the door and get this issue re solved.. Again, just an observation from someone who “once upon a time”, liked to visit Silver Lake.

  12. Double Standards says:

    Why is it that when SLRS responds to a call in Wheatland or Randall, they have no problem with those Fire Departments being in command of the medical scene? They only seem to have a problem with the SLFD. Why the double standard silver lake rescue???

  13. John Gulig says:

    I see two ways to solve this issue.
    1. Silver Lake village sets the policy to be followed by the fire department and the rescue service. All parties follow that procedure. End of discussion. If you can’t follow village policy you are gone.
    2. The village contracts with who will provide the service required by the village because the village is the one who will be responsible when things go wrong.
    We need to end this issue of sides being taken. It is very simple when one policy is set in place and followed. Think of it as a business deal, no friends, just follow the rules.

  14. Ughhh says:

    I would just like to know how many deaths are a direct result of SLRS not being qualified. I have said on past posts about this topic, and I will repeat. Why does SLRS just not get the qualifications needed to upgrade their service if they’re so worried about whether an intercept is needed or not. People, don’t make this complicated.

  15. Emergency Response Reality says:

    The ability to staff either a fire truck or an ambulance CONTINUES to be a problem in Silver Lake during the day time hours. Rescue PAYS people to staff their station, and they have trouble getting 2 people roll out the door during the day. Fire has the same problem. The simple reality is that not enough folks are available during the day to respond to calls, most of them are at their full time jobs, NOT in the village. Folks still seem to have difficulty grasping that reality. What, if anything is being done to resolve this issue? You can “recruit” all you want…..if I live outside of the village, and join either fire or rescue,how long is it going to take me to respond from home and report to the fire or ambulance station? Not acceptable folks. Salem Fire & Rescue can provide us with IMMEDIATE response, INCLUDING paramedics! What exactly are we waiting for? More studies? More calls where nobody shows up to staff either the ambulance or the fire truck?

  16. Sl Goverment says:

    STATUS QUO is not an option anymore. Punsley is right, Galich is right and many of the resident are correct. A private company that does not preform to the level necessary needs to be replaced.

  17. Better With Bernie says:

    Informed citizens in Silver Lake know the score.
    Silver Lake Rescue has for years operated in a bubble – oblivious that they work for the municipalities that contract with them. They believe that they tell the village what to do. But the village is the customer!
    In recent years they have failed to cooperate in any manner with attempts to merge or even work with the village for a unified command structure and more safety for our residents.
    They are controlled by emergency medical directives from another county!!
    Ask them to cooperate and they fight tooth and nail: “Save the Rescue Squad” they say. But why? What makes them so special. Answer: NOTHING.
    I say contract with true professionals from Salem who are Paramedics and under their watch, our SLFD will be added as EMT first responders. That ensures a quick response by trained professionals PLUS paramedics on every call.
    No more playing games by SLRS. No more SLRS waiting in the Walgreen’s parking lot, wasting valuable time, while a critically ill patient is transported to a full ALS unit (Salem Rescue). No more fighting with the customer. No more unprofessionalism. No more medical control for citizens of Silver Lake from another county. No more split medical directors. No more ‘walk in calls’; picking up people without contacting 911 dispatch.
    The good old days of Silver Lake Rescue, where the folks serving were our neighbors and friends in Silver Lake are gone. The employees of SLRS are mostly from out of our village and appear to care about their organization than the citizens they are supposed to support. Let’s put this issue behind us.
    Get rid of them!

  18. @Double Standards says:

    You ask why SLRS can work with Wheatland and Randall. First off the Chief’s of those departments are qualified and have many years experience as Lt’s and Captains before becoming Chiefs. 2nd they respond with licensed first responders. They also have state approved EMS operational plans. The reason SLRS can’t work with SLFD is because the SLFD is the joke of the county. Allie gets mad at Randall for helping the village during Tiregate and she takes them off the MABAS cards for structure fires in the village, talk about the ones putting people in harms way. It’s no wonder so many departments around the county either moved SLFD way down on the MABAS cards or have all together taken them OFF the cards.

    You talk all this BS about unified command. You are talking about medical calls, not incidents such as structure fires or car accidents. Being on local fire departments, I’ve always enjoyed working with SLRS and in fact have moved them up on our MABAS cards. You ask how can they be responding on MABAS calls, well just like Paratech, MEDIX, Scout Leaders and LJH, they provide EMS coverage and services on MABAS calls.

    By the way Greg, big old Kenosha Fire Department’s medical control is not based in Kenosha County either, in fact they use the same Medical Control as Milwaukee FD does.

  19. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Chris Miller: Why hide behind your name to offer NO OPINION! I guess you DO have an opinion….that posters should not “hide behind a fake name to state your opinion”(your words, not mine!). I AM Bernard Punsley….how does ANYONE know you are “Chris Miller”. I have MANY OPINIONS..and state them OFTEN. What are YOU “hiding behind”….”across the tracks”!!!

  20. Silliness in Silver Lake says:

    Bring back Chief Kordecki and contract with the Boy Scout Leaders Rescue Squad. End of story. Everyone is happy.

  21. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Ughh……Silver Lake Rescue Squad HAS “upgraded” their qualifications. They are now allowed to give patient’s nitrous oxide. So we got THAT goin’ for us!

  22. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Double Standards: You deem SLFD to be “the joke of the county”, with an inexperienced fire chief and firefighters. As you seem to be an “expert” on the subject, I will play the “devil’s advocate” here and agree with you. Seems like even MORE REASONS that we should bring in Salem Fire & Rescue to provide emergency response protection to our village, INCLUDING Paramedic Level Service. And my question about SLRS responding to MABAS calls was not the level of EMS service they provided, it was how they are expected to follow the Incident Command System on a MABAS call, but not in Silver Lake. You still haven’t answered that question.

  23. What once was... says:

    SLRS lease is up in several weeks. Last 30 years was for $1 per year. If SLRS does not contest this lease in the next several weeks…30 more years at $1 per year. The board should now condemn that building, and put a raze order on it. That is the only way out. Work for our public works department..The wrongs in this village is ending, and ending fast. Onward we go!

  • Follow us on

  • Archives