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June 11, 2014

26 Years of Dedication

My career in EMS started in 1988 when my wife and I graduated from EMT basic class. Four of us from Poy Sippi attended EMT basic class in Wautoma at the courthouse.

My name is Lenny Langkau, NREMT-P. I have been married to the love of my life, Patti, for 34 years. I have a son, John, and a granddaughter, Brianne.

My career in EMS started in 1988 when my wife and I graduated from EMT basic class. Four of us from Poy Sippi attended EMT basic class in Wautoma at the courthouse. Bob Sternhagen was our instructor, and we had a great time. Gail Nigbor, Peggy Grambsch, my wife, and I all traveled together to Wautoma for class, and we worked diligently to learn our skills. We had fun together, and the class went well. I remember that I told myself, as well as everyone else I knew, that after successful completion of the National Registry there was absolutely no way I was going to go any further in EMS. It was too stressful!

At that time, I was working as a mechanic in Poy Sippi. I was fortunate enough to work for Dan Button, who was an EMT as well. The pager would go off, and we would leave to go on a call, whether it was for EMS or fire. I absolutely loved the excitement of the call, but I was still thinking that getting more education to start IVs or work a cardiac code was not for me. After 10 years of service, my wife suddenly appeared at the garage with paramedic books in hand. She said it was time for me to go to paramedic school. She handed me the books and said I was already enrolled in the class! Whoa…what a shocker!

Well, I went to class three nights a week and continued to work at the garage. We also owned a restaurant in Poy Sippi, so everyone was busy. I worked at the garage, worked at the restaurant, went to school, attended clinicals, and tried to run EMS calls. I thought I would never make it, but somehow, with the support of my wife, I did.

Mike Klinkner was my medic instructor, and I remember I was the oldest student in the class. I sat next to OFD firemen who got paid overtime to come to the class, while I paid for everything out of my pocket. My determination was high, and I studied hard. I will tell you that it was far from easy, and I certainly didn’t graduate at the top of the class.

After graduation, I worked as a paramedic for Waushara County EMS, and I also worked at Wild Rose Hospital in the ER. The knowledge I gained was extremely helpful, and I grew in my confidence. My skills became more finely honed, and my confidence grew. I worked as a partner in a joint venture for about three years with my classmate Jeff Fiedler. We had an EMS interfacility transport service called Heartline Medixs. We transported patients from Wild Rose, Berlin, and Ripon hospitals to the Valley, Madison, Milwaukee, and even out of state.

I started as an adjunct instructor for FVTC somewhere around 1996. I was teaching CPR and then became an ACLS and PALS instructor. I taught first responder and EMT basic refreshers, and then moved up to lead instructor for EMT basic. I did a few classes in Wautoma and then taught a couple of IV tech classes. My son, John, was a student in one of those classes.

In December 1999, I interviewed for the position of EMS director for the city of Berlin EMS. I served in that position until August 2003. At that time, I interviewed for a full-time faculty position as an EMS instructor for FVTC and got the job.

My first class as a full-time instructor was to teach the I-99 class. I had to review the curriculum, modify it, and format it in WIDS for the tech, and then come up with the lesson plans and exams. I had limited experience on the computer, and making PowerPoint presentations was not a strong point. However, I quickly learned how to do them, and I was off and running. I remember that two of my students in that first class were Dan McCourt and Dee Evans. That very next year I started teaching EMT paramedic class, and those two individuals were in that class as well. Today, Dan is a full-time EMS instructor, and Dee is the current director of Berlin EMS.

Through the years to follow, I remained as the paramedic instructor as well as an ACLS, PALS, BLS, IV tech, and EMR instructor. For the last four years, my efforts have been entirely concentrated on the paramedic program as well as ACLS and PALS. I have also served as the EMS department chair during that time frame.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without involvement in EMS. Between the students, my co-workers, and the patients I have encountered over the years, my life has been greatly enriched. I imagine that EMS will always be a part of my life in some way, and I do not plan on completely giving up on this lifestyle. I will slow down on my on-duty call time, as my wife and I plan on doing some traveling. I have a newfound love of lighthouses, and I plan on visiting as many of them as possible. I would also like to visit a few of the historic Civil War battlefields and monuments, so my summer should be pretty well filled. Lastly, I have a 6-year-old granddaughter who has captured my heart, and I plan on spending lots of quality time with her.

By Lenny Kankau

Congratulations, Lenny, on all your achievements in EMS!