Monday, March 20, 2023
Chance encounter on the job leads to lasting friendship
CVTC emergency service grads value training, community, each other
Brooklyn Sommerfeld, left, a Chippewa Falls Fire & Emergency Services paramedic, and Joan Lawcewicz, an investigator with the Chippewa Falls Police Department, became fast friends after an emergency call pushed them together, literally. The women say having a friend in their high-stress field of emergency services is comforting.
Unique experiences bring people together.
Brooklyn Sommerfeld and Joan Lawcewicz are a perfect example.
Sommerfeld, a Chippewa Falls Fire & Emergency Services firemedic; and Lawcewicz, an investigator with the Chippewa Falls Police Department, were in a compromising situation together a couple of years ago – something that many people will never experience if they don't work in emergency services.
Sommerfeld was on a call for a male having a seizure. She said it’s not uncommon for people to come out of a seizure and be combative.
“This guy became really aggressive with us after coming out of the seizure,” she said.
Lawcewicz was on patrol and heard the call over her radio. She knew that sometimes these situations can “go south” and quickly made her way to the location to assist.
“She showed up, thankfully,” Sommerfeld said in recalling the encounter. “And this is really goofy, but it’s exactly how it happened. Joan (Lawcewicz) comes in and pins this man up against the wall because he’s starting to swing, spit and kick. My leg was awkwardly caught between the man and (Lawcewicz). And I’m like, ‘This chick means business.’”
They finished the call and transported the man to the hospital for his safety.
“All of a sudden (Lawcewicz) comes in the ambulance garage, she opens the back and she’s like, ‘Hi, I don’t think we’ve met yet. My name is Joan. Be my best friend.’ ”
Both women laughed at Sommerfeld’s account of the women’s first encounter.
Not only do they share experiences through their professions, but they also share familiarity in education. Sommerfeld graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College where she studied and received her Certified Nursing Assistant technical diploma and a Firemedic associate degree.
After beginning her university studies as a nursing major, switching to kinesiology and striving to become a lawyer, Lawcewicz changed her path once again to criminal justice, when she attended CVTC’s Law Enforcement Academy before working for the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office in the jail division.
Even though the women have so much in common, they know that not all emergency services departments play well in the sandbox. That understanding helps Sommerfeld and Lawcewicz value their friendship and the closeness it has brought their two departments that much more.
“Our departments have always had such a good working relationship,” Lawcewicz said. “But our departments have gotten even closer.”
It makes working in these high-stress professions a little less stressful, the women said. They know people in supporting departments will have their backs.
Like when Sommerfeld and Lawcewicz were called to the scene of a woman in labor in June 2021.
The night before, the women were having dinner together and discussing how cool it would be to deliver a baby together on a call.
“Like, that would be a dream,” Sommerfeld said.
The next day, they were both working the day shift when the call came in for a female, 32 weeks pregnant and bleeding. When Sommerfeld saw Lawcewicz walk into the house, she breathed a sigh of relief. Not because Sommerfeld didn’t trust other officers, but because it’s her best friend and a female.
“I’m the only female in this department, so to have another female there for that nature of a call was great,” Sommerfeld said. “And then it was Joan (Lawcewicz), someone I’m super comfortable with, too, because when you’re going through something like that, you want someone assisting who you’re comfortable with.”
Together, they delivered the baby.
“It was like a scene from a movie,” Sommerfeld said. “I remember saying, ‘You have a healthy, beautiful baby boy.’ That was just the most surreal thing ever.”
Sommerfeld, whose father is the fire chief in Cadott, said the job is stressful, but their training at CVTC has prepared them for these intense situations.
“In high-stress, low-frequency situations, we’ve had great training leading up to that,” Sommerfeld said. “It started at CVTC and now to the departments we work for. We’re super fortunate we have support from our departments and the community. That’s huge, and it sets us up to be able to handle those calls. It sets us up for success.”
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