Volunteering with EMA saves lives

Published 9:33 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

Many volunteers make a difference in another person’s life. First responders and other emergency volunteers help save them.

Chilton County Emergency Management Agency Director Bill Collum said virtually everyone in the county can become a “spontaneous” volunteer in times of need — like helping on the scene of a car crash.

The EMA offers several classes and courses throughout the year to emergency volunteers who want to be ready when disaster strikes.

A basic CPR and first aid class is something everyone can benefit from, Collum said.

A more advanced Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class is free. The 20-hour class includes more detailed first aid and teaches people how to use a fire extinguisher and more.

Collum said the classes have a wide variety of students. He remembers one woman who was 100 years old when she took the class.

“Males, females…anybody that wants can be involved,” he said.

Five different CERT teams have emerged from the classes, each with its own personality. One church-based team has a lot of older members who are great to help pass out goods or cook during evacuations, while another team has experience tree clearing.

The EMA offers even more advance training, including a 40-hour first-responders course that is usually taught at a volunteer fire department.

“It’s a good way for departments to recruit for their volunteer staffs,” Collum said.

A first-responder course is wrapping up at West Chilton Fire Department.

A 120-hour EMT course is also offered but is usually for people working toward a career as a paramedic. A few volunteers have completed that course, too, though.

If you are interested in any classes offered through the EMA, please call its office at 755-0900. Different classes are offered throughout the year, but most don’t meet during the summer. Collum said any churches or organizations interested in sponsoring a class should call the office for info.