David Diestler used to head up the Rock County branch of the Red Cross. When the organization downsized and his position was eliminated, there was at least one service Diestler couldn’t bear to see go.
“I knew this was going to go away, and I felt really strong about it and the need for it and that kind of support for fire and law enforcement in the community,” Diestler said. “I felt really strong about that.”
After meeting with some of the municipalities and area fire departments, Diestler and a group of recruited volunteers formed the Southern Wisconsin Emergency Preparedness Team, better known as SWEPT. Dieslter became the executive director.
“The Town of Beloit fire department had the vehicle, but had no man power,” Diestler explained.
With that, SWEPT is on call around the clock to meet the Rehab 28 vehicle and crews out wherever they might need help.
All of the volunteers go through training, and the group does everything from serving food and drinks to providing shelter for overheated or freezing cold first responders to controlling traffic on the scene of an emergency or event.
“Knowing they can call one number, 911, and then we'll show up for them, that takes a lot off of their plate,” SWEPT assistant director Kate Hoesly said.
The group has only 23 volunteers, so they are reaching out to the community for more help. Diestler said that since SWEPT is an all-volunteer non-profit, all donations to the group are going entirely back to the firefighters and law enforcement they support.
“I think we need people to not count so much on other organizations,” Hoesly said. “I think we need to count on ourselves.”
If you would like to join SWEPT, visit http://www.teamswept.com/ for more information.
Any contributions can be sent to the following address:
5832 N. Glenmoore Lane
Janesville, WI 53545