CRS Celebrations 1

By Bob Balgemann


CANDLEWICK LAKE – A large crowd turned out Monday, Aug. 3 for what was a bittersweet moment in the life of Capron Rescue Squad, which has been serving northern Boone County for the past 58 years.

They gathered for two celebrations.

First was a sneak peak at the squad’s third station, being built along Caledonia Road, on the south side of Candlewick Lake.

The event was held in the two bays that soon will house as many ambulances, as the squad attempts to improve on an already very good response time to calls in that area.

Congratulations were offered by state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg and Dr. James MacNeal, medical director for Mercy Health Systems.

Walberg said the new station was an excellent example of people working together. He was impressed by the turnout the celebration, saying, “That demonstrates how important this is. My hat’s off to you.”

Dr. MacNeal talked about the Chain of Survival, and the important role non-medical people play in it by knowing CPR and how to stop bleeding. It’s more than just calling 9-1-1, he said.

He said he was certain lives would be saved by having the new station in Candlewick Lake. It’s “bare bones, no Taj Mahal,” he said of the building with sleeping quarters and the two ambulance bays.

Proximity to calls is key, as is equipment in the ambulance and the personnel using it. “The first 20-30 minutes in the back of ambulance need to be the same as if you came to me in the ER (emergency room),” he said.

Owen Costanza, president of the Capron Rescue Squad District Board of Trustees, outlined steps the squad had taken in recent years.

He remembered the main office and only station being housed in a former gas station in downtown Capron. That building was refurbished to include sleeping quarters; a former farmhouse on Poplar Grove Road became station No. 2; and now, the station in Candlewick Lake.

“This is the first EMT building (constructed) in North Boone,” he said.

crs celebration 2

Chief retires

After a ribbon cutting involving officials of the squad, Boone County Board, medical community and Candlewick Lake Association board, the focus shifted to the retirement of the squad’s first full-time chief, Dennis Ahrens.

Assistant Chief Tony Stepansky, who has been named the new chief, said Ahrens was sought out, that his coming to the county was not a random kind of thing.

Ahrens’ impressive background covering 43 years started when he joined the Elgin Fire Department. He rose through the ranks to being named deputy chief in April 1993. From there became chief of the Crystal Lake Fire Department in March 2000 and remained there until retiring in September 2004.

Eight years later he was named chief of the Capron Rescue Squad.

Costanza presented him with a handsome plaque, commending his lengthy tenure of service to the community.

It was an emotional time for Ahrens, especially when he thanked his wife of 46 years for putting up with the long hours and demands of public service. “That’s all I have to say,” he said.

But the ceremony wasn’t over.

Sosnowski presented him with a certificate from the Illinois House of Representing, recognizing him for his many years of service.

And Stepansky read from The Watch, signifying Ahrens’ retirement from duty, saying, “He stood the watch for 46 years so our families and community could sleep soundly at night. We’re here today to say, ‘The Watch stands relieved. We have The Watch.'”

He turned to Ahrens, shook his hand, and said, “Sir, I relieve you.”

Capron Rescue pagers went off twice in the moments to come in one final tribute to Dennis Ahrens. A 9-1-1 radio dispatcher congratulated him on his retirement.

crs celebration

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