Saving lives on the side

As a firefighter and emergency medical technician, Tyler Pilz is trained to help people navigate some of the worst days of their lives. From fighting fires to reviving accident victims, he responds to all kinds of emergencies that unfold at all times of the day.

But saving lives isn’t Pilz’s full-time job. It’s one he makes time for on top of his role as information systems manager at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Pilz has been volunteering as a firefighter with the Richfield Volunteer Fire Co. for the past six years. Since he began volunteering, he has also completed state certification as an EMT, a motor pump operator and a fire inspector and is trained to perform on a rapid intervention team.

Pilz battles a fire during a December 2013 training session.

“Each time I entered a different level, it was because I saw the need and felt like I would be of better use,” Pilz said.

Pilz battles a fire during a December 2013 training session.

As one of 56 staff members at the RVFC, Pilz helps cover 49 square miles in Washington County. His volunteer commitment includes a weekly overnight shift, a weekly training session and time on the job every fourth weekend, when he is on call from 6 p.m. on Friday through 5 a.m. on Monday.

Typically, Pilz spends his shifts at home just a few minutes from the station, equipped with a pager.

While he endures some long nights making rescues, Pilz said the positives of his volunteer work make even the most challenging shifts worth it.

“The rewards of helping people – that’s what pushes everybody through these, and that’s why we all do it,” he said.

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