Lynnfield Fire Department personnel gathered at the South Fire Station on Friday to present Roger Baker of Rehab 5 with a $4,300 check - the proceeds from a fundraiser held last month.
Baker is the founder of the nonprofit group, which for 25 years has assisted the region's fire departments by helping to protect personnel at fire scenes from dehydration. In the winter months, fire personnel can trade in their frozen wet gloves for fresh ones courtesy of Rehab 5.
The group is staffed by volunteers primarily with backgrounds as firefighters, EMTs and dispatchers.
Before Friday's check presentation, Baker told Lynnfield Patch that Rehab 5 first began to take shape around 1986 after a former girlfriend bought an old ambulance in Lynn. A Swampscott fireman who was also a Red Cross volunteer remarked to Baker at one point that the vehicle would make a great canteen truck, and offered to help with the required mechanical work.
Baker added that Rehab 5's mission developed in response to the relatively common threat of dehydration faced by fire personnel, in part because of the protective gear they wear. The group is regularly at fire scenes with misting fans, Gatorade, water and wet towels. EMTs with Rehab 5 evaluate the fire personnel at the scene and check their vitals when they come out of a building - although Baker notes that during the summer months, even something as seemingly minor as a dumpster fire can bring the risk of heat stress for fire personnel.
"If you can catch these guys before they develop heat stress, then you can reassign them to do another task," said Baker.
Baker also indicated that for a group that depends on donations and volunteers to provide its service, "this is just a very expensive undertaking," with the insurance and inspections alone on five vehicles costing thousands of dollars a year.
To learn more about Rehab 5, visit its website here.