Clabots retires from Merrill Fire & EMS
After 20 years of dedicated service to the Merrill community, Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Clabots has retired from the Merrill Fire Department as of July 15. Chris started his emergency services career with the Merrill Fire Department on July 14th, 2000, being hired by then Fire Chief Norm Hanson. Prior to employment with the fire department, Clabots worked as the Safety Director for E.J. Peter Trucking and WH Transportation and the Operations Manager at Marth Transportation.
Prior to starting his career with the Merrill Fire Department, Clabots was a member of the Village of Howard Volunteer Fire Department, the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department, and the Corning Volunteer Fire Department. During this time with those departments, he served as Fire Inspector and Training Officer. He also served Corning as a First Responder. Later he was a first responder and the service director for Russell First Responders.
Clabots has numerous certifications, licenses, and endorsements through his decades of emergency services. Chris holds Firefighter II, Fire Inspector I, Driver/Operator – Pumper & Aerial, and ICS 100-800 certifications. He is a National Registered Paramedic and was part of the initial group of Merrill firefighters who took the paramedic training to upgrade the ambulance services in Lincoln County. Firefighter/Paramedic Clabots is also a certified Emergency Vehicle Operations Class (EVOC) instructor, Wisconsin licensed Instructor II, and a certified American Heart Association (AHA) Instructor for CPR, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Chris is a valuable member of the department’s EMS committee, handled EMS supply ordering, and commonly dealt with protocol changes. Clabots routinely attended EMS conferences like the Wisconsin EMS Association (WEMSA) and the Geneva EMS convention.
Needless to say, Clabots has made a huge impact on the department and the community especially through his service as an instructor. Serving as the department’s own in-house advanced life support instructor meant that he was responsible for teaching our own. He had the respect and attention of his fellow colleagues when he taught. They knew Chris had the background and experience to teach them the skills they would need in the field. In addition to his in-house training, Clabots taught countless CPR classes for the public and other health care providers. It is unknown how many students benefited from his instruction in first aid and CPR classes. His teaching skills went beyond the Merrill Fire Department as well. Chris is part of the training faculty at Northcentral Technical College and Nicolet Area Technical College teaching EMS, EVOC, CPR, ACLS, and PALS classes.
Clabots’ personnel folder is full of various thank you cards and notes from patients who experienced the professional and compassionate service that he gave the Merrill community for 20 years. That same folder holds the various commendations that he received as well. Some of those were from past calls for service like on July 19th last year. Firefighter/Paramedic Clabots along with the other members of his crew responded to a total of 20 calls during their shift, mostly from severe weather that passed through our area. From 8:50 PM through midnight, the crew ran continuously from call-to-call, taking care of whatever emergency that came their way. Clabots and his crew also hosted the first ever team bonder at the fire department. Off-duty, Clabots helped with the annual Merrill Firefighters’ Charities softball tournament and assisted with honor guard duties for funerals of retired members.
While there is no official department record, Clabots is likely the tallest member in the fire department’s history. In fact, many in the public know him as, “That tall guy who teaches CPR classes.” Each active and retired member of the department has their own favorite memory or story of Chris. Some will remember a dramatic call they went on together all the, some might appreciate the coaching and mentoring that he gave them, and some will even remember the time or two he forgot to duck when walking around the fire trucks, the fire station, and especially the Emergency Rooms at Good Samaritan.
Since the construction of the new fire station, his crew will miss the detail he put into loading the dishwasher and the early mornings he spent cleaning up the kitchen and washing vehicles. There are so many stories and memories made in his career that it would be impossible to list them all here. “As fire chief, I recognize the impact Chris has made on our department which is why it will be hard to replace him. As a firefighter/paramedic who also ran calls with Chris, I can tell you that I never felt like there wasn’t a call we couldn’t handle,” stated Fire Chief Josh Klug. Upon Clabots retirement, the department has hired Firefighter/Paramedic Jacob Aumann as his replacement.
While we recognize his duties as a firefighter/paramedic, we would be remised if we didn’t mention his role as a father. Chris’s three children, Laura, David, and Andrew have the highest praise and appreciation of their father. As children of a public servant, they saw firsthand the sacrifice and dedication that Chris gave to his career. They saw the higher calling of his profession. In his retirement, Clabots plans to continue some of his teacher and paramedic duties. He will continue teaching for NTC and Nicolet Colleges as well as work as a Paramedic for Marshfield Medical Center in Minocqua. His retirement won’t be all work though either. Chris and his wife Ann plan to relax and enjoy time with their grandchildren. The Merrill Fire Department would like to congratulate Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Clabots on his well-deserved retirement and wishes him all the best in all his future endeavors. The department held a small retirement reception at the fire station on July 14th. As a token of their appreciation, the fire department presented Chris with a custom Merrill Fire Department wristwatch. The Merrill Fire Department knows he will wear it with pride, just like the way he took pride in his 20 years of service to the Merrill community.