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Burnsville Firefighter Gearing Up for Medical Mission to Haiti

March 8, 2011 1 comment
Chris Knettel, Burnsville Firefighter, Haiti medical trip

Courtesy of Chris Knettel

Burnsville firefighter Chris Knettel, Haiti, Medical Mission trip

Courtesy of Chris Knettel

A Burnsville firefighter/paramedic is spending his April vacation in the Caribbean, but it’s not all fun and games for Chris Knettel on this trip.

He’s headed with a team of Twin Cities physicians, nurses and a physical therapist to Haiti for an eight-day journey to provide medical assistance to the residents of the impoverished country. “I’m excited and I’m not sure what to expect,” Knettel told Twin Cities Fire Wire.

This all came down when Knettel was preparing for a spring trip to Cozumel. On Feb. 19 he received an e-mail from a friend who is a doctor at Regions Hospital that was a call for volunteers to go on the trip.

“For some reason it just didn’t feel right for me to take a winter vacation. I have no idea why,” he said.

By Feb. 21 he used his, as well as donated, frequent flier miles to secure the airfare and started packing up any supplies he could find. He’s packing his hockey bag with medical supplies, soccer balls, air pumps, toys and candy for local children. He has secured some of this through his own money and sought donations for others.

Knettel has been a firefighter for 14 years and spent the last two years as a part-time flight paramedic with Lifelink. He has worked as a full-time firefighter/paramedic in the city of Burnsville for the past eight years. He expects to use his medical training from the minute the group touches down in the country.

The first three days will be spent at an orphanage in the rural mountain community of Camatin, three hours from Port Au Prince. Good luck trying to find Camatin on the map–we haven’t been able to.

From there, they will move to a more urban area to help residents. “I don’t know what to expect, but they told me that we’ll see about 200 patients each day.”

When asked what type of aid will be rendered, he said “It’s really anything. It can be check ups, c-sections, administering medicine, treating cuts and sores. They do not have much there.”

“The company World Wide Village of St. Paul that we are going with is working on a charting system to track the patients down there.” The system will allow doctors to provide follow ups when needed.

“I am bringing tools as well,” he said. “I’m a firefighter, so I am trying to be handy.” He’s prepared to fix broken equipment at the clinics and help local residents with repairs when he can.

Twin Cities Fire Wire spoke with Knettel right before a dentist’s appointment on Monday. He later told us that he walked out with 150 toothbrushes and toothpaste. His dentist, Dr. Stephen Dalseth has visited Haiti in the past and knew Knettel could use the help.

We are asking all of the Twin Cities Fire Wire readers to help Chris and his group provide the needed supplies and equipment. You can donate via Chris’s personal page at: http://funds.gofundme.com/2l9mk. You can become a fan of their Facebook page as well.

Three-Alarm Fire Strikes Burnsville Apartments

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment
Bloomington fire, Burnsville Fire, Raven Hill Apartments, Firefighter

Twin Cities Fire Wire Photo

Few details are available about a fire that broke out shortly after midnight Saturday at a Burnsville apartment complex.

Fire crews were called to the Raven Hill Apartments — 13050 Harriet Ave. South. — ¬†about 12:10 a.m. The caller reported smoke and flames from a third floor apartment.

Burnsville Engine 2 went on scene with heavy smoke from a three-story garden apartment complex and requested a second alarm.

Minutes later, a third alarm was requested along with additional ambulances.

Firefighters from Apple Valley and Bloomington were on the scene, assisting Burnsville units. Several ambulances from Allina were called as well.

Several fires have damaged units at the Raven Hill Apartments in the last few years, including a June 2007 fire that left dozens of families homeless.

TwinCitiesFireWire.com will update the story when more information is available.