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'We'll be there:' First responders spend Christmas Day at work, ready to respond to emergencies

’We’ll be there: ’ First responders spend Christmas Day at work, ready to respond to emergencies

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- If you're spending Christmas Day at work, you're far from alone.

Doctors, nurses, EMS workers, firefighters, police officers, those in the service industry and countless other industries are spending their holiday in the office -- or saving lives in the field.

Joel Rechlitz, battalion chief at Milwaukee Fire Station 7, said he and his firefighters try to make the fire station a home away from home on Christmas Day.

"We like to have a little celebration much like you would at your own house. We like to replicate that and do that here at the firehouse," said Rechlitz, who brought prime rib to the station's potluck Christmas dinner.

He said the firefighters have created a family of their own at the station, but that doesn't mean it's easy to not spend the holiday with his two children.

"Being away from your family is always a stressful situation. Fortunately, for many of us, Santa realizes that fathers and moms work on Christmas Day. So sometimes Santa comes a little bit early or maybe he comes a little bit late," Rechlitz said.

The unseasonably warm weather this holiday week is also affecting the type of calls first responders are getting.

"You have nice weather so you won't have the slips and falls from ice and some of the issues that you'd have when you have like heavy snowfall and possible heart attacks. But on the flip side, the weather is nice so people are outdoors more doing things. Maybe they're trying out new skateboards. Maybe they're playing with the toys that they just got from Christmas -- so you do have some issues that way," he said.

But whenever they get a call, Rechlitz said you can count on his firefighters to be there -- because they know the city of Milwaukee depends on them.

"We have to provide a service. Lives and property are at stake. That's why we are always staffed 24/7, 365 regardless of the day or the weather or the situation," Rechlitz said.

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