DELAVAN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Larry Lester has been serving the town of Delavan for nearly 50 years—46, to be exact. When people call for help, he’s usually one of the first to arrive. Lester is the Chief of the Town of Delavan Rescue Squad, and at 84-years-old, he says it keeps him young.
Lester has suited up thousands of times, zipping up his fluorescent EMS jacket to head out on a call. It doesn’t matter the time of day, or the weather.
“At, you know, 2 o'clock in the morning, 4 o'clock in the morning, 6 o'clock in the morning. He's there,” said longtime friend and colleague, Teddy Menasco.
His reputation for steady calm has been earned over the decades he’s served the Town of Delavan Fire Rescue.
“He's so unflappable,” said Tim Sturtevant, who is with the Safety Office for the City of Delavan.
And when asked why he’s still at it after all these years, Lester just chuckled.
“Well, I guess it keeps me young,” he said with a smile.
The photos in the station tell the story.
“This is Larry and this is myself,” said Menasco, pointing them out in a group shot.
There are a lot of group photos of fire fighters and EMTs over the years, and Lester is always there.
“He's like, I would say, the heart and soul of EMS in southern Wisconsin,” Menasco said.
Lester taught at Gateway Technical College, training lots of EMTs over the years.
In the Town of Delavan, it’s a volunteer department. When the radio goes off, Rescue Chief Lester is usually ready to roll.
“Within 15-20 seconds, I heard Larry checking in with the sheriff's department,” Sturtevant said about a call that came in a few nights ago.
He’s not just quick with a response, he goes out of a lot of emergency calls.
“We had 55 calls. I think I made 50 of them,” he said of calls the department got last month. “Two months ago, we had a new record, we had 76 calls in a month's time. And that was the highest number we've ever had.”
He said being on the job this long, he knows a lot of people in the area, and some are surprised to see he’s still at it.
“Sometimes, yeah. Especially when they were younger people than me,” Lester said.
Menasco and Sturtevant aren’t surprised.
“I'd have to say he's one of my best friends,” Menasco said.
Sturtevant has known him almost as long as he’s been with the department.
“We went through EMT school together, back in '75-'76,” Sturtevant said.
And they aren’t surprised he’s still going strong.
“You know, he's like the energizer bunny. He just keeps on going,” Menasco said. “And he does make more calls than anybody else on the department.”
So, what keeps him going?
“It's a challenge, I think,” Lester said. “A lot of times you get in a stressful situation and my main goal is to try and keep my calm.”
It’s dedication the community won’t forget.
“The people remember and they remember him, because when they called for help, Larry came. Larry walked in the door,” Menasco said.
The Town of Delavan has a referendum coming up to pay for a fulltime rescue squad. Lester said if that passes, he might slow down then, but he’ll always be available to help.