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Girls to the rescue

The Superior Police Department is sending local middle schoolers to the rescue this week.

The department, with the help of local donors, is sponsoring four Douglas County students attending Rescue Divas, an EMS summer camp for girls in grades 6-8.

The department sent out a call in April, offering to pay camp costs and provide transportation by limousine to Camp Northwoods in Bayfield County, which runs this week.

"We didn't want the registration fee or the transportation to be an issue," said Superior Police Officer Marc Letendre.

The five-day, hands-on camp focuses on educating middle school age girls about careers and volunteer positions in emergency medicine. It also opens their eyes to how exciting and rewarding these fields can be. The group will be given CPR training, self-defense lessons and view a mock ATV crash. Tours of the Ashland Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard in Bayfield are planned. They'll get to test their tracking abilities and learn about handling dogs when the Sawyer County Search and Rescue Team visits.

"They bring in their drones, they bring in their helicopters," Letendre said. "They've got a great thing going and we're super excited to help in this small way, piggyback on the great efforts those folks have done."

Rescue Divas, supported by Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program and a number of large donors, is open to students in eight counties. It highlights STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — and focuses on fields in which women are underrepresented.

"That may be by choice, that may be because of lack of access to opportunity," Letendre said. "If it's the first, that's great. If it's the second one, whatever large portion or small portion that represents, that's the part that I think we need to address, men or women."

Gender equity and gender parity pay are important, he said "And we want to promote them any way that we can."

Local sponsors, including individual police officers, donated money to help cover registration fees for Douglas County participants. Al Capone Limousine offered a discount for the ride to and from camp; Erberts & Gerberts is providing lunch.

The money was raised through the department's crime prevention program; any money leftover will be donated to the camp.

Rescue Divas aims to spark future career options, recruit EMS volunteers and provide a fun experience. Opening local access to it seemed like a very easy way to make a difference, Letendre said.

"Let's address this and let's make sure we provide equal access and equal opportunity in as positive a way as we can," he said.

Visit the Rescue Divas Facebook page or for more information.