EMA director: More volunteers needed

Published 1:33 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2010

There is a constant need for newly trained volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel in Chilton County, said Bill Collum, the county’s Emergency Management Agency director.

There are two primary reasons for high turnover in volunteer emergency services — age and burnout.

“You’ve got a real big burnout rate, so you need new people all the time,” Collum said. “You can stay in that and be effective for only so long.”

For the most part, fire and rescue volunteers are ordinary citizens who already have full-time jobs. Add the responsibility of being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it can take its toll.

“Sometimes you hear them get called out a gazillion times a day,” Collum said.

New volunteers are trained at various levels each year. Homeland Security grants pay for Department of Transportation first responder courses, as well as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) that are available to citizens at no cost.

Chilton County EMA/Homeland Security is sponsoring a five-week DOT first responder course at West Chilton Fire Department beginning March 29 at 6 p.m. The 40-hour course will be held Mondays and Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. and will cover topics such as responder safety, soft tissue injuries, fractures and splinting, medical emergencies, emergency childbirth and recognition of hazardous materials, among others.

Collum encourages anyone who is interested to participate.

“This course will allow you to work on a volunteer fire department and make medical calls,” he said.

Like CERT training, first responder training can prove invaluable in a time of emergency, even for individuals who do not work with a fire or rescue agency.

“Even if you don’t want to get involved with a fire department or rescue squad, this is good for general knowledge,” Collum said. “Who knows when a family member or co-worker might need that help you could provide?”

Anyone interested may pre-register by calling Collum at 755-0900 or Lynn Gothard at (205) 294-1925.