Collin's Community Hero Day set for Jan. 27
For the last five years, Collin's Community Hero Day has brought joy to youngsters throughout the area with public service departments showing off their equipment and vehicles.
"We let the kids shoot some of our water extinguishers and use our thermal imaging cameras to try and find heat sources. So it is interactive for them and more than just showing them the equipment and our rigs," said New Richmond volunteer firefighter Jeff Rothmeier. "I'm just looking forward to having everyone one come out and have a good time this year."
This year's event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at the New Richmond fire station.
"That was Collin's passion in his young life: he loved public servants. We are really trying to embody that passion in his memory," Rothmeier said. "The event is a charitable event as well, so we are raising money for the regional responders to help with any issues they might have with PTSD. That has been a really prevalent issue in our industry lately. The Fitzgeralds have been very generous in turning this tragedy into something good."
This year's event will once again include representatives from the NRPD, the St. Croix County Sheriff's department, the National Guard, NR EMS and the fire department. Each department will bring along one of their vehicles in addition to personnel to do a meet and greet.
"Last year we started a Battle of the Badges contest, with police versus fire, and we are going to do that again. But it is going to be a little more formal this year with a bigger effort to get teams put together and have fun while also entertaining the citizens who come to the event," Rothmeier said. "It also gives us a chance, as departments, to show a little bit of pride in a fun event."
Another benefit, according to Rothmeier, of bringing together the various departments for Collin's Community Hero Day is to give departments a chance to get to know each other a little better.
"Many times when we respond to emergencies, we don't really know the police officers and they don't know us, other than the longer tenured members," Rothmeier said. "It is nice to see somebody in an environment other than the emergency field and get to know them so you can start to get comfortable with them. It is always comforting to see a familiar face on a stressful scene, and at least be on the same page if nothing else. The interaction we had last year was very positive and I can only see that being more and more beneficial the more we get to know each other and interact."
This year's Battle of the Badges will include a few of the same events and activities as last year, but will also be a bit different as well.
"We will put together fun little events and activities for people to enjoy watching. It also gives us more hands-on time with our tools, which is always a benefit," Rothmeier said. "It is for a good cause and it is a community event where we can kind of draw together over a tragedy and have a little bit of gratitude for what we have here. We have a very close knit community, great first responders and people around here as well."