Volunteers for VF & R and Auxiliary Needed!
The idea first came up at the informational Town Meeting on March fifth, and then two days later at the general Town Meeting. Vershire Fire & Rescue, the town's volunteer fire department was asking for more community participation, which started a dialogue about what kinds of help is needed. It turned out that there’s a lot more going on at the scene of a fire, accident or other emergency than just heroic firefighting and emergency medical service.
Controlled house fire in Warren, Vermont
In a Vershire list serv post from April 17, Jack Kruse described examples of support needed. “Please consider being part of an informal support team for families during an emergency. It could be keeping people warm, arranging a snack, helping families get to a phone, or watching out for the children. If you're interested in the possibility, please come to the fire station this Thursday at 6:30 for a quick meeting.”
Laura Craft has met with the VF & R team a couple of times to start organizing the effort but has had a hard time getting potential volunteers together. A few people expressed interest at the Town Meeting, but response has been sparse to nonexistent since then.
In her Vershire list serv post, also of April 17, Laura explains, "Spring is wildfire season, as snow disappears, leaving dry grass and brush behind. According to the VF&R crew, wildfire calls are one situation that a Support Team can be very helpful, doing everything from getting food for firefighters, to keeping dogs out of the way."
Why such a limited response to such a great need? There really aren’t enough fire fighters and EMTs to begin with, let alone support crews. Local towns have an agreement to support each other on calls because other towns are facing the same shortages. Why are such important positions in our communities so hard to fill?
Richard Comstock, who has lived in Vershire most of his life, sees some logistical barriers to getting involved. For instance, Richard works second-shift, so he could potentially be available to help in the mornings, but unable to attend evening meetings. He also questions whether his employer would allow him to leave work to answer a call, which would involve a commute of over half an hour from Randolph.
"The younger generation," Richard laments, "spends all their time on their phones or playing video games. They'd have to put down the controller and the phone and get involved." He feels that people used to grow up in a culture that was more attuned to the needs of the community and to the responsibility to participate, and less focused on television, electronic entertainment and games. Also, in days past, more people worked on their farms or in town, so it would have been easier to respond to a situation immediately.
Have you ever considered volunteering for Vershire Fire & Rescue? If you haven’t actually done it, why not? If you have, how has it worked out with your life/work/family balance? If you don’t want to respond in the comments below, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll keep your identity confidential if you prefer, as I would like to help shed some light on these questions.
What do you think could be some solutions to this problem of such a large, albeit occasional, responsibility falling on the shoulders of so few people in our community? What would you suggest?
The other side of the coin (as in coin drop!) is trying to reduce the need for emergency services in the first place. What other measures can be taken to make our community safer? What can we do at home or on the road, for instance, to minimize the need for these services?
I look forward to exploring these questions, and others that I’m sure will arise in this conversation, in future Buzz posts. But I’ll need your help! I’ll be calling on the key players already involved in the VF&R organization to share their perspectives, and all others are welcome as well.
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