Rural life depends on fire, ambulance volunteers
Sometimes, schtuff -- yeah, you know what we mean -- happens. You do everything you can safety and maintenance-wise, but something catches fire or somebody gets hurt anyway. Take a deep breath, stay calm and call 911.
Sometimes, schtuff - yeah, you know what we mean - happens. You do everything you can safety and maintenance-wise, but something catches fire or somebody gets hurt anyway. Take a deep breath, stay calm and call 911.
Pagers beep, the fire siren sounds, and folks around town drop what they're doing, grab their keys, and they're out the door in a matter of minutes.
Rural firefighters and ambulance volunteers spend a lot of hours in training, earning certifications and getting licensed - up to 150 hours for an EMT - to be ready when the call comes in. It takes dedication and commitment. And they volunteer to do it.
But what if they didn't?
That's starting to be a problem for people who live rural. Emergency responders who started volunteering 20 years ago are ready to retire, and no one's stepping up to the plate to take their places.
Our home state of North Dakota is a good example - all 68,976 square miles of it. We spread about 750,000 people over 53 counties, in around 300 cities and towns, with only 128 ambulance squads and 87 fire departments/rural fire protection districts to cover all that sparsely populated space. We can't afford to lose any more of them.
Most of our towns - 200 plus - are home to fewer than 1,000 people. That's not a big pool to draw volunteers from. Besides, who's got time?
Not the patient or the fire, that's for sure. Nope - no "pause" button. Once the clock starts ticking, help better be on its way.
Rural fire and rescue needs people to hop into turn-out gear and use the cool tools to free people from crashed vehicles and put out fires - the kind that happen in fields and on farmsteads, not in boardrooms.
And we need ambulance drivers, EMTs, and emergency medical responders - they're more than "first aiders" these days - to drop everything and go save lives. Or at least make bad situations better.
It's one of those "toughest jobs you'll ever love" - they don't want to have to go, because it means someone they know is having the worst day ever. But they go anyway, because they want to do everything they can to help.
So next time you see someone who volunteers for the local fire and rescue or ambulance squad, let 'em know how much you appreciate the time and energy they put into serving your community.
Or better yet - join 'em! If you don't want to handle fire hoses and extrication equipment or deal with medical stuff, ask what else they can use. Drive a rig, do paperwork, go to fundraisers, do whatever you can.
Let's help 'em keep the lights on and the rigs ready, so they'll be there when we need 'em.
Editor's note: Learn more about Tait and Kate by visiting their blog at taitandkate.com.