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Stand-by rescue services once provided by WVFD members at Enders Reservoir PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 10 February 2011 20:12

By Tina Kitt

The Wauneta Breeze


Along with a distinguished history of fighting fires and assisting at the scenes of accidents, members of the Wauneta Volunteer Fire Department also provided emergency medical services for their community, a responsibility now handled by the professionally trained Wauneta Emergency Services team.

Enders Lake quickly became a recreational hot spot for the region in the 1950s and 1960s once construction on Enders Dam was completed in 1951. It was one of several dams built along the Republican River and its tributaries which were designed to prevent downstream flooding as well as provide water to irrigate cropland. As an added benefit, the reservoirs created by the dams offered a boost in tourism for the area.

Along with the fun of boating, skiing, fishing and swimming came the need for emergency assistance at Enders Lake, located miles away from an organized fire department or emergency rescue squad.

Information included with a photo of WVFD members Clyde Maris, Leland DeHart and Lloyd Sinner in the June 22, 1961, issue of the Wauneta Breeze taken on the previous Sunday states:

“Firemen establish Enders aid station. Noted for their continuing interest in public service, members of the Wauneta Volunteer Fire Department have established an aid station at Enders Lake.

In 1961 members of the Wauneta Volunteer Fire Department began providing stand-by first aid and emergency assistance on Sundays at Enders Lake. WVFD members initiating the program on that first Sunday,  offering assistance in June 1961 were, from left, Clyde Maris, Leland DeHart and Lloyd Sinner. At back is the WFVD rescue rig dubbed “The Old Ghost.”


“Each Sunday, at least two members of the department will station the rescue unit at the lake (near the new shelter house) ready to administer first aid or to be close to help in drownings. The rescue unit is equipped with a two-way radio to call for help if the situation demands it. The unit has oxygen, rescue equipment, first aid kit and necessary apparatus to help in case of any emergency.”

“It was mainly just pulling fish hooks out of kids’ fingers, but we were there to help if there was some kind of disaster,” recalls DeHart fondly. At that time DeHart was serving as assistant fire chief, with Sinner beginning his 28-year tenure as fire chief in January 1961.

Department members also offered emergency assistance at the newly built Wauneta Municipal Swimming Pool which saw its first summer of use in 1961. The following summer, in August 1962, they were called to the pool to provide emergency assistant when 2-year-old Michele O’Neil fractured her skull in a fall at the pool.

The summer of 1961 marked the start of Wauneta’s municipal ambulance service, said DeHart. Crew members used an old panel wagon they had converted, painted white and equipped with an old World War II stretcher.

“That Old White Ghost,” as the rig was dubbed, “did a good job. We about drove it to death,” recalls DeHart. In 1962, the department purchased a rescue dummy to help perfect their resuscitation skills.

DeHart served on the fire department for 35 years, often holding office, before devoting his time in 1980 to serving as a trained emergency medical technician. DeHart has long been recognized as one of the key members in seeing a professionally trained EMT department established in Wauneta.