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Former Merrill Fire Chief donates $1,000 to fire department

Merrill’s former Fire Chief presented a $1,000 check to the Merrill Fire Department on Thursday.
Merrill’s former Fire Chief presented a $1,000 check to the Merrill Fire Department on Thursday.(wsaw)
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 6:11 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Merrill’s former Fire Chief presented a $1,000 check to the Merrill Fire Department on Thursday. He said it’s not only because of his 33 years of service there but also because of a near-death experience.

Bob Odegard had a heart attack two years ago and the Merrill Fire Department was on the scene and responded in three minutes. Odegard said response time was crucial.

“Had it been 10 minutes, I probably would have maybe survived, but I’d have had disabilities,” said Bob Odegard, Former Merrill Fire Department Chief.

He said if they took 15 minutes he’d likely be dead.

His former coworkers, John Kraegenbrink and Josh Grovogel got the call.

“When you get a call for anybody that’s possibly having a heart attack or that’s possibly unresponsive it gut wrenches you... But when it’s somebody you know it does give you an extra kick,” said John Kraegenbrink, senior firefighter and paramedic.

They used a defibrillator to restart Oregards’ heart.

“Thanks to these guys, they saved my life,” said Odegard

He’s paying it forward by donating so the station can get new kits that will increase response times and in turn save more lives.

The kits will be kept in firefighter and paramedic vehicles so they can respond at any time. Odegard said he knows a few minutes can be the difference between life and death. He said in his time working in the field, many weren’t as lucky as he was.

“I watched a lot of people die too, there’s no tomorrow’s promise. You know you live your life for today and enjoy it,” said Odegard.

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