St. Michael's College emergency response team members frequently gather at the new picnic table to decompress after calls. (Photo by Tom Marble)

St. Michael’s College emergency response team members frequently gather at the new picnic table to decompress after calls. (Photo by Tom Marble)

There was no shortage of helping hands when Chad Conger arrived to unload the picnic table he built for the St. Michael’s Fire and Rescue squad.

“Of course, being fire and rescue people, they can’t see a project without jumping in to help out,” Conger said.

After working with Zac Minior, a rescue squad member and St. Michael’s student, over the summer, Conger learned the table the group gathers around to blow off steam after tough calls was in severe disrepair.

“It was an old St. Mike’s table from storage,” Minior said.

When Kiki Leech, Conger’s co-worker and director of the Milton-Colchester Rotary, heard about the dilemma, she decided to team up with Conger on the project.

“I approached the Rotary, and we agreed to do the funding,” Leech said.

With the cost covered, three generations of Congers got to work designing, assembling and painting the newly commissioned table. Conger’s father, Colin – a Georgia resident – did the design and sourced the wood for the project.

The table, which now sits in the massive garage that houses rescue and fire vehicles at the St. Michael’s station, is made out of pine planks spanning 8 inches wide and 10 feet long.

Conger took the lead on the table’s assembly.

“It took about 8 ½ hours or so to actually build it,” he said. “With transportation, I’d say I have about 11 hours into it.”

After it was all put together, Conger’s 12-year-old and 15-year-old sons volunteered to paint the table before Conger loaded it onto his trailer and drove it from his St. Albans home to the station on College Parkway.

“The conversation started in August, toward the end of [Zac’s] time with us, and Chad and his family delivered it in October,” Leech said.

Although he had never been inside the St. Michael’s rescue building, delivering the table was a nostalgic reminder for Conger of his days on the University of Vermont rescue squad.

“I got a great tour from Zac and got to see their newer rescue quarters, which was kind of a trip down memory lane,” Conger said.

Leech, who has been involved in Rotary for years, also has a connection to the emergency response team that transcends the recent picnic table project.

In the past, the Milton-Colchester Rotary partnered with the squad to send ambulances overseas to countries struggling to equip their own emergency responders.

As part of the collaboration, St. Michael’s sold three ambulances to the Rotary each for $1. The Rotary then retrofitted and donated them to Haiti and South Africa.

“There’s no way we would have been able to do that without them,” Leech said.

Due to increased prices, however, the ambulance partnership was halted.

“The cost of ambulances has gotten so high that most of the fire departments actually have to trade in their old ones to help reduce the price of a new one,” Leech said.

As for the table, Minior said department members are grateful to have one that is sturdy and efficient.

“We feel safe sitting on it,” he said. “And it was designed in a way so if anything does break, it’s easily replaceable.”

In the upcoming weeks, the squad plans to add decals to the table, including the station’s logo and fire engine numbers.

“We’re big fans,” Minior said.