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We Will Never Forget

South Haven Area Emergency Services

The Mission of SHAES
The Mission of the South Haven (Michigan) Area Emergency Services (SHAES) is to preserve life, limb and property through aggressive fire prevention, education and fire suppression. To provide the highest quality of emergency medical care with skill and compassion. To serve our communities with pride, integrity and courage.



SHAES News Updates

V.F.W. Donation Supports Initiative

Thank you V.F.W. Post 667 of South Haven for your generous donation of $3,976.53 which were the proceeds from your recent First Responder Appreciation Dinner. This donation will go towards the purchase of a manikin patient simulator which will provide advanced life saving training skills for our responders. Our recent Drive-thru Pancake Breakfast raised another $4,000. We are now over halfway towards our goal to raise $13,000 for the purchase of this vital training tool.

Pictured with Chief Hinz (right) and Deputy Chief Bierhalter are Pat Doud, VFW Surgeon General; Steve Botimer, VFW Auxiliary President & Jim Pacwa, VFW Auxiliary Senior Vice President.

Drive-thru Pancake Breakfast a Success

The SHAES Drive-thru Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, Sept. 5 was a huge success. We “served” 452 breakfasts. The proceeds, which totaled $4,000, will help SHAES purchase a new EMS advanced training life support manikin.

The Importance of Inspections and Pre-Plans

South Haven Area Emergency Services was dispatched recently to one of our local hotels for an early morning Carbon Monoxide alarm. Upon arrival it was noted there was a concentration of 10PPM CO in the hallway which had increased as personnel made their way further into the building. SHAES members asked hotel employees to initiate the evacuation process and exit the building as fire personnel donned self-contained breathing apparatus, furthering their investigation and continuing evacuation efforts.

FD personnel found the greatest concentration of CO in a mechanical room, 150PPM. It was determined that an exhaust pipe from a natural gas fired hot water heater had detached and was exhausting all combustion by-products into the mechanical room. Adjacent rooms were reading 40-50 PPM CO. Sustained exposure to CO at 150PPM will cause disorientation, unconsciousness and possible death.

All residents and staff were evacuated from the hotel. FD personnel mitigated all hazards, ventilated the entire building, checked all the rooms for residual CO and allowed residents and staff to re-enter the building.

SHAES has added 2 inspector positions over the past 4-5 years to assist the Deputy Chief with fire code inspections, pre-plans and short-term rental inspection responsibilities. For instance, 2021 to date, our inspection program has completed 147 commercial building pre-plans, 86 fire code inspections and 326 short term rental inspections. This program has proven to be very fruitful and imperative for the safety of our residents and visitors. This also helps in familiarizing our SHAES team with the layouts of our many businesses and challenges that may arise if called upon to respond. Pre-plans are uploaded to I-pads which are located in all our first line apparatus arriving to an emergency scene.

This incident is a very good example of the importance of fire code inspections. Smoke alarms, CO alarms, exit signs are all on a long list of items to be inspected in a commercial building. Our inspectors verify that these are present and operating. The hotel referenced above, for instance, was just inspected in early June 2021. If CO alarms were not present or not operating properly this incident could have surely proven fatal.

We commend our inspection team: Dep. Chief Keith Bierhalter, Asst. Inspector Steven Cavadas and Asst. Inspector Rex Haner and our on-duty staff and paid on call members that handled the situation with professionalism and expertise: Capt. Ronald Ridley, FF/Paramedic Dawn Hinz, FF/Paramedic Zachary Kenreich, Lt. Brian Horan and FF Matthew Dey.

Community Supports SHAES Water Rescue Initiatives

Pictured: Steve Gage, Chief Lending Officer and President of the Western Market for Sturgis Bank & Trust Company; SHAES Chief Brandon Hinz; Stephanie Timmer, Senior Vice President of the Western Market, for Sturgis Bank & Trust Company.

Read Moody on the Market coverage –

See WOOD-TV coverage –

The generosity of the community is allowing South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) to add to its toolbox of water rescue devices.

A department fundraiser and contributions from the community has allowed the department to purchase an underwater sonar search device for its dive team, according to SHAES executive director Brandon Hinz.

The department's staff recently sponsored a drive-thru pancake breakfast that netted just over $3,000 toward the purchase. The Sturgis Bank and Trust Company and its employees donated $1,000 and the fundraising initiative went over the top with a generous contribution from Don and Carole Hodgman of South Haven.

The Sturgis gift came in a unique way. Each month the bank hosts a “Jean Day”. All of the employees at its branches are encouraged to participate. The branch banks choose a beneficiary. This month the employees at the South Haven branches selected SHAES. The bank matched the employee's contribution.

In addition to acquiring the sonar device, SHAES is able to purchase custom-fit life jackets for its fulltime staff. In the past the responders used jackets that are kept in the apparatus. Now the jackets will be worn by responding on-duty staff in an effort to reduce the time needed to facilitate the start of a rescue. The department is also improving its accountability system at water rescue scenes, according to Hinz.

SHAES earlier this summer expanded its drone capabilities for water-rescue and other emergency scenes. A year ago the department equipped its paid-on-call staff with life jackets and throw-devices to be carried in the responder's personal vehicles. The department also recently increased the size of its dive team staff.

SHAES is supporting a City of South Haven initiative aimed at better communication with the public regarding city beach conditions through a texting system. The public can sign up to receive text messages thru BEACHES at 888777. More than 1,000 people have signed up for this free service.

In cooperation with organizations and businesses such as Bronson-Safe Kids, the South Haven Visitors Bureau and Apple Insurance of South Haven, the department continues to support messaging efforts about water safety.

Lifesaving Awards Presented by SHAES

See Fox17 Coverage –

WHTC Radio - Holland Coverage –

Pictured: Allegan County Sheriff Deputy Jacob Gage, SHAES Chief Brandon Hinz and SHAES Firefighter/EMT Paramedic Johanna Quinn.

Two emergency responders whose lifesaving efforts were credited with rescuing the driver from a burning vehicle were honored by the South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) on Wednesday night (July 7).

Presented the department's Lifesaving Award were SHAES paid-on-call Firefighter/EMT Paramedic Johanna Quinn and Allegan County Sheriff Deputy Jacob Gage.

The two responded on June 18 to a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of 109th Avenue and 66th Street in Casco Township. One of the drivers was trapped in a vehicle as it caught fire.

Deputy Gage, a sheriff deputy for less than a year, was in the area and the first emergency responder to arrive on the scene. He tried to control the fire with an extinguisher and began the rescue of the trapped driver as the vehicle burned. Quinn, a SHAES responder for seven years, drove to the scene from her home. Together, the two were able to extricate the driver who was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“Quinn and Gage put themselves at risk, overcoming the smoke, heat and inherent danger to remove the patient from the burning vehicle and then rendered first aid until SHAES units arrived,” said SHAES Chief Brandon Hinz.

2021 Beach Safety Program Underway

Read MLIVE coverage –

Read Herald Palladium story –

On Saturday, May 15, the staff of South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) started its annual program of flying safety flags at city beaches for the summer months with a new emphasis.

This year, in wake of the increase in water-related emergencies a year ago, SHAES and the City of South Haven, are implementing initiatives to better inform the public before heading to the beach, especially on red flag days.

The city's IT staff has developed a text-messaging system that will send alerts to mobile phones when flags are flying red.

“We want people to realize when the lake is too rough long before they arrive at our beaches,” said SHAES executive director Brandon Hinz. “Unfortunately, the lake in its fury is so inviting that many people upon arrival at the beaches tend to disregard the red flags which are intended to signal they must to stay out of the water. We hope this messaging system will cause folks to decide not to head to the beach.”

“There are so many other recreational opportunities in the South Haven area that folks don't need to feel homebound on red flag days,” said City Manager Kate Hosier.

For example, the city opened a family-oriented splash pad near the South Beach last year. Among the numerous playgrounds in the city is the popular Kids Corner which overlooks Lake Michigan. The South Haven area has also become well known for its hiking and biking trails.

To subscribe to the free Beach Flag messaging system, send a text message with the word “Beaches” to 888777.

“In a return message you will receive the current beach flag postings and given the opportunity to sign up to receive messages whenever flags change to red,” said Hinz.

The city's IT staff has also created a QR code that when scanned brings people to the Beach Flag Status website. The QR code will be displayed at local businesses and short-term rental houses, according to Hinz.

Lake Michigan conditions as determined by the National Weather Service are monitored by SHAES personnel. Beach warning flags are raised at the city's seven public beaches every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The flags are changed throughout the day if lake conditions change. The flags are either green, yellow or red based on the conditions.

“Our staff will be monitoring lake conditions more frequently than in the past,” said Hinz. “We encourage the public visiting our beaches to keep an eye on the flags, especially when the lake is wavy.”

A numbering system for the nearby beach flag poles and pier safety boxes has been developed to assist during a time of emergency as a point of reference.

Matt Dey Chosen Firefighter of the Year

Matt Dey has been chosen by his peers as the SHAES Firefighter of the Year. A member of the department’s paid-on-call staff since 2018, Dey exemplifies through his actions the selfless commitment to community by SHAES responders, according to Chief Brandon Hinz.

Three times during the 2020 summer season he was a key responder during water-rescue responses by the department. Read more about this honor and other SHAES recognitions –

See FOX17 Posting –

Coverage by Moody on the Market –

Specialized Drone Enhances SHAES Water Rescue Capabilities

See WOOD-TV coverage –

See FOX-17 coverage –

Read MLive story –

Read Herald Palladium story –

See WZZM-TV coverage –

The ability to affect water rescues by South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) responders has been enhanced with the acquisition of a specialized drone.

The purchase was made possible through a generous grant of $7,500 from the Albemarle Foundation. Albermarle Corporation has a plant in South Haven. The Albemarle Foundation is employee-driven and seeks through its grants to make a positive, sustainable impact in the communities where its employees live and work.

Pictured above are SHAES Chief Brandon Hinz and Phillip Kenreich, software engineer at Albermarle Corp. of South Haven. Firefighter Zach Kenreich demonstrates drone in photo below.

The drone is equipped with a payload delivery system that is capable of dropping CO2-charged, water activated flotation devices to swimmers struggling in the water. Operated from the shore, the operator is able to view through a camera the distressed swimmer.

“We are excited to add this drone to our arsenal of water rescue tools for the upcoming summer months,” said SHAES executive director Brandon Hinz.

Last summer SHAES responded to 23 incidents involving people in distress on Lake Michigan. There were three drownings.

The drone is also equipped with an infrared camera that can be used to locate distressed swimmers in the dark. It is also capable of detecting heat signatures for search and rescue efforts in rural areas such as woods and cornfields.

The Albemarle Foundation has been generous to SHAES. Grants in recent years have been used to purchase water rescue equipment for paid-on-call staff and to acquire bicycles outfitted with EMS supplies for quick response in congested areas.

SHAES Tradition Continues With New Rescue

See Fox17 Coverage – / Moody on the Market reports –

Steeped in tradition, South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) is continuing one that started with the founding of the department a quarter of a century ago.

An attention-getting depiction of a cartoon character appears on the department's new heavy duty rescue truck which was delivered in recent days.

Handsomely displayed is the character Yosemite Sam from the 1940s Looney Tunes cartoons. This tradition started at the time of the creation of the SHAES Authority from what had been the South Haven and Casco fire departments. Randy Van Wynen, the SHAES chief at the time, and colleagues Keith Bierhalter and Tony Marsala selected Yosemite Sam. The department secured permission from Warner Brothers to display him for non-commercial purposes. “It's a great tradition that brings smiles to not only the public, but our responders as they go about the serious business of protecting the community,” said SHAES Chief Brandon Hinz.

Working with Bierhalter and Firefighter Brian Montgomery, Paul Russell from Spencer Manufacturing of South Haven created the characterture on the new Rescue One.

Each Yosemite Sam depicts the purpose of the truck. Tanker trucks show him carrying buckets of water. On the engines he is wielding a hose and axe. Shovel and axe are in his hands on grass rigs. The new Rescue shows Sam holding the Jaws-of-Life extrication tool and a haligan tool.

See more pictures of new Rescue One –

Alert: Field Fire Danger Continues

The transition from winter to spring means there poses an increasing danger for field fires that can endanger structures. Open burning is not allowed within the city limits. There are requirements for open-burning in the townships. Please review before burning –

SHAES Plans to Implement Cadet Program

Read MLIVE Story / WSJM Report / Fox17 Report / Moody on the Morning Report See WZZM Story

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) in the upcoming months will launch a Cadet program that will introduce participants to the fire fighting and emergency medical service professions.

“We are excited about this new opportunity to serve for the young people in our community,” said SHAES Executive Director Brandon Hinz. “and who doesn’t want to be a firefighter…really?!”

The program is intended to grow the number of people entering the emergency services professions. Cadet prospects will be welcome in the coming months to experience the department first-hand by attending training, respond to emergency calls as an observer, and help at events and fundraisers. Beginning in September, SHAES will sponsor Cadets for the state certifications required to become a firefighter.

“Becoming an active Cadet prior to starting classes will help orient students with the department, it’s equipment and personnel,” said Hinz.

Interested cadet prospects may live outside the SHAES service area which includes the City of South Haven, Casco Township, Geneva Township and South Haven Township.

Cadet prospects under 18 years of age must have a valid driver's license and a signed work permit from their school. Minors will also need a signed parent/guardian permission slip allowing SHAES to conduct background check. The number of cadets will be limited.

Interested persons are invited to contact Chief Hinz –

SHAES Has Record Year in 2020

South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) responded to a record number of calls during 2020 according to the department’s Annual Report. Responses totaled 2,358 compared to 2,171 in 20l9. The previous record had been 2,276 in 2016.

“Our call volume showed a significant increase in medical-related responses,” said executive director Brandon Hinz. “Even with the restrictions and hurdles that had to be endured due to the COVID pandemic, our staff remained committed to providing quality service to our residents and visitors.” Read more –

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