Archive for Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Wal-Mart donates to rescue squad

June 12, 2002

The county's water rescue squad members have a long list of equipment they need.

And $1,000 that the Leavenworth Wal-Mart store gave them last week will help the squad whittle away at their needs.

"We're going to buy some gear," said Dave Couvelha, training officer for the squad. "We have some rope equipment we need to buy."

Although squad members have held fund-raising events, and hope to work at upcoming Kansas Speedway races, the Wal-Mart gift is the largest cash donation to the group.

"We are very happy to support such a worthy organization," said Doug Portenier, store manager. "With our proximity to the river, it only makes sense to support the Leavenworth County water rescue."

Other companies, and even the city of Tonganoxie, which gave the squad $500, also have helped.

Austin's Trailer Sales, on Kansas Highway 7 in Kansas City, Kan., worked with squad members to obtain two Polaris personal watercraft. The four-person, 13-foot watercraft provided by the Polaris company will expand the team's capabilities, Couvelha said.

"They essentially loan us watercraft for free, and we get new ones every year," he said.

The rescue squad officially called the Leavenworth County Water Rescue and Technical Services Team hasn't been called out since last year, when Stranger Creek overflowed.

But that doesn't mean the squad's been idle.

"We've been training throughout the year," Couvelha said. "This past winter, we've been concentrating on bringing up the team on scuba. We've spent a lot of time in the classroom and at the community center pool in Leavenworth."

This summer, the squad will train on the Missouri River.

"I would not have any problem right now on the Kaw because it is not that treacherous of a river," Couvelha said. "The Missouri is a different story because it is a mean river."

The squad is always looking at different ways to execute a water rescue whether by boat, by personal watercraft or by using a boom to hook someone in peril in a creek or river.

"We're trying to put more tools in the toolbox," Couvelha said. "We don't want to get so set on one single method that it hampers us. We have to stay creative."

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