5 ITS staff fight virtual, real fires

Samantha Hoppert, General Reporter

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Many people assume that those who work in Information Technology Services are passionate only about computers, but that is not true. Within ITS there are five men who risk their lives every day as volunteers for the City of Platteville’s Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.

On top of working full time for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville ITS department, Thomas Covert, Nathan Manwiller, Mike Perkins and Christophe Vrielinck are volunteer firemen for the City of Platteville. Brian Day volunteers for EMS. They are full-time employees at the university, however they remain on call during their regular ITS work hours and give up countless hours of their home lives in order to give back to the community.

“Every volunteer must go through repeated training,” Thomas Covert, senior network administrator of ITS and Platteville Fire Department assistant chief, said.

Volunteers attend a minimum of two training nights every month. In special cases, these training sessions are bumped up to three times a month for those wishing to be volunteers for specialized teams such as the Jaws of Life team. If a volunteer wishes to become a captain, they must complete all three courses of training, while others are only required to complete one or two courses. Nathan Manwiller, support services operations manager of ITS and Captain of Platteville Fire Department Engine 8 said that he puts in hundreds of volunteering hours each year.

“Being a volunteer fireman means going into an environment where you should be dead, but the [training] and equipment helps you get through it,” Covert said.

Even though volunteering requires endless hours of training, these men said that it is worth it.

Covert has been volunteering at the Platteville Fire Department for 15 years.

“The friendships you receive from fellow volunteers are invaluable,” Covert said.

Manwiller has had a similar experience with volunteering and said the department and his friends within the department have become a second family.

Covert said that their true goal is to “provide service to the community in a way that not everyone is willing to do.”

These men do realize that they are volunteering to go into life or death situations.

“Somebody has to be there to do it, and it’s not always fun,” said Manwiller.

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