"Beyond the Call:" De Pere first responders recognized for compassion, hard work
Several De Pere Police and firefighters were honored on Tuesday for going above and beyond the call at the 5th annual Outstanding Public Safety Member Recognition Day.
Ilde Nielson, owner of Ogan Restaurant, will never forget April 24, 2019 as she watched the building go up in flames and collapse.
She nominated Firefighter/EMT William Tews and Lieutenant Tom Hendricks, for their work during and after the fire.
“I was in bad shape for four months, I cried whole day for four months, we had some help and now I feel more comfortable and strong for a re-start,” said Nielson.
Tews and Hendricks worked for weeks investigating the cause of the fire, which was never determined, interviewing business owners and people who lived in the apartments. They even tried to get some personal belongings back to tenants.
“Part of the process is helping the owners out, so if they have personal belongings in there that are kind of special to them, they help point those out. We do our best to get those back to them, if it's reasonable and safe for us to do,” said Tews.
The pair is also being recognized for helping a family who lost their dog when a fire started at their home in September.
“It wasn't until after the fire subsided that we were told Teddy had passed, and they laid a blanket over him on our patio so we could say goodbye,” said Denise Stodola.
Teddy was an 8 year old mixed breed Border Collie/Australian Shepherd.
The fire started in the kitchen from a toaster that was plugged into an outlet.
Firefighters were able save their other second dog.
“It's a big loss for a family, it's just like having another family member and anybody who has a pet knows that can hurt just as much as losing somebody else,” said Tews.
It's that kind of compassion that made the Stodolas want to recognize the firefighter's efforts.
“They put their arm around us and they said they would be with us and that we had a long process ahead of us, but they were very supportive in any way they possibly could have been, so we wanted to be able to thank them tonight,” said Stodola.
Officer Anthony Phelps of the De Pere Police Department was also recognized for going above and beyond.
He’s been an officer for more than 20 years and worked for the Milwaukee Police Department before coming to De Pere.
Officer Phelps was recognized for his meticulous case follow-up and hunt for the suspect.
He’s also the founder of the department’s PEER support team, helping other officers through difficult personal and professional times.
The event is put on by area civic clubs.