Halstead Firemen Help Retired Chief Get Home

By Pilar Martin
Harvey County Independent – March 27, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – April 24, 2014

halstead fire 4242014

David Swart, a retired fire chief living in Bentley, was transported from the Halstead Health and Rehab last Thursday to his home in Bentley.

This was no ordinary transport. Swart, who has cancer, and his wife, Nancy, had touched the heart of occupational therapist assistant Tammy Weber.

Weber has been working with Swart since Feb. 25, trying to help him learn to transfer from bed to chair and back with little assistance.

Swart was diagnosed with cancer on his spine, and later in his kidneys. The therapy was a last ditch effort to help the Swarts so they could move back home and live unassisted.

Swart has been in excruciating pain in his back, which is what led him to doctors in July of 2013.

The cancer had deteriorated some of Swart’s vertebrae, with the fragments hitting his nerves. He has no use of his legs because of this. Even on medication, Weber said, she could tell he was still in a lot of pain, but he worked through the pain in therapy sessions.

Recently, after talking to doctors, Swart decided it was time to go home. Hospice set up at the Swart home in Bentley. But transportation became an issue. Swart’s van is not handicap accessible and the facilities’ new van can’t be used right now.

Weber contacted Fire Chief Jim VanSchaick for help. VanSchaick said he would be honored to help out a fellow Chief.

Swart was a firefighter for 30 years. He started his career in Wichita, where he spent 20 years. Looking for other opportunities, Swart took an assistant fire chief position on Fort Riley’s Fire Department. He was later named chief. Swart and Nancy were in the Manhattan area for 10 years.

Nancy is originally from the Bentley area. They moved back to help her parents and decided to retire there. Both Nancy and her husband tell wonderful stories of the huge family all firefighters are a part of. Whenever they would travel, if they ever needed anything, all they had to do was stop by the local fire department, and they were welcomed. The couple has been married for 55 years.

It was this type of camaraderie that prompted Weber to call the Halstead Fire Department Chief for help. It was a moving goodbye for staff and the Swart’s as Chief Swart left for home assisted by his comrades.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster