Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Heroes among us

Ordinary people who do extraordinary deeds daily

Goodness filled the lodge at the Cub Scout Camp on March 6 as Goochland’s fire-rescue volunteers gathered for their annual dinner meeting.

These folks are the best of Goochland. Their ranks include Goochland deputies and teachers, people who believe in community service and lead by example. Our volunteers are teenagers and senior citizens. They come from all walks of life and work together to make Goochland a good place to live and work.

Last week, a deputy had a medical emergency. His life was saved on a Wednesday morning because trained EMS providers, career and volunteer, were there and did their usual amazing professional job.

This emergency hit very close to home for the wonderful folks who bring help and comfort on the worst days of our lives. The fact is they do this all the time.

Our volunteers are very matter-of-fact about their service to the community, but without them, there would be many empty seats at Christmas dinner.

Started in 1952 by a group of local young men, many of them veterans, Goochland volunteer fire-rescue has a long, proud history of the most basic kind of community service.

Wayne Allen, interim chief of the department, looked out over the gathering of 228 that included volunteers and family members, recognized long-time members and welcomed young newcomers, the leaders of tomorrow.

Howard Henley, a founding member and past volunteer chief of the department, was recognized along with the other past volunteer chiefs, Tommy Carter, Frank Wise and deputy chief Tucker Hill. Together, they bring more than 250 years of experience to the department and remain actively involved.

Some volunteers in attendance represented third generation members, a phenomenon fast disappearing as new residents shy away from becoming fire-rescue volunteers. Life is busy, but still, our volunteers make time to help others.

They regularly leave their warm beds to go in harm’s way to scrape people off the interstate following nasty wrecks or provide comfort and care to the sick and injured. It’s hard, dangerous work but they do it gladly with skill and grace.

Did you know that in addition to saving lives and fighting fires, our volunteers are often the folks who clear fallen trees from roadways after storms after storms? Did you know that Goochland has an active and well-trained water rescue unit that rescued people stranded by flooding in Richmond and Henrico?

The meeting program listed hours served by each volunteer, a staggering number especially when you understand that most volunteers have families and hold jobs too. The amount of money that our fire-rescue volunteers save county taxpayers is huge but the value of their commitment cannot be measured.

Our volunteers give freely of their time and talents to help their neighbors. It is a vocation, not a job. Citizens are always amazed at the competent and professional quality of the service provided by our volunteers.

Attaining the high level of skill required by Goochland fire-rescue is not easy. Hundreds of hours of professional quality training, the same as that completed by career personnel in neighboring jurisdictions, must be successfully completed to be classified as a basic EMT of firefighter. Continuing education to enhance and maintain skills is mandated training in addition to running calls.

Volunteer night crews often respond to calls in the wee hours of the morning, and go on to put in a full day’s work at their jobs.

The teamwork by the county administrative staff and each of the county’s six volunteer fire-rescue companies at Manakin, Crozier, Centerville, Fife, Courthouse Village and Hadensville is extraordinary and effective.

Our volunteers and deputies work closely and well together dealing with the challenges presented by a long narrow county and limited resources.

Four members of the board of supervisors were in attendance. District 3 supervisor Ned Creasey has a family emergency. County administrator Rebecca T. Dickson was unable to attend due to a previous commitment made before she came to Goochland.

Allen thanked the supervisors for their support of the volunteers.

Courthouse Company 5 received the Chief’s Award for its outstanding on duty record and tradition of service. Having the largest first due territory in Goochland, members of the Company 5 rescue squad responds to many calls, 793 in 2009.

During the deputy’s medical emergency last week, Company 5 volunteers were among the first on scene and played an important part in the proceedings. This what all of our fire-rescue volunteers do every day. They get little credit or recognition for their skillful dedication to the most basic form of public service.

Margaret Heinrich of Centerville and Chris Jones of Courthouse were made life members of the organization.

Service awards for five year milestones were presented as follows:
Five years: Meredith Newton; Melissa Fivecoat; Steve Young; Taylor Richardson; Claude Parrish; Kevin Jones; Ashley Cousins; Joseph Cicero; Michael Reazin; Elizabeth Chenault-Brown; Dorothy Brown; Ty Querry and Kelly Woods.

Ten years: Walter L. Branch, Jr.

Fifteen years: Margaret Heinrich; Michael Burnette and Christopher Jones.

Twenty years: Kenneth Atherholt; William McGuire; Barbara Sensabaugh and Vernon Crumpler.

Twenty-five years: Anthony Trapani, Jr. and John Trent.

Thirty years: Willis Dunn.

Thirty-five years: Dean Dunn.

Forty-five years: Fred T. Carter.

Eddie Ferguson, Jr. Deputy Chief-EMS reported that the Michael G. ”Tink” Sims Scholarship program, established through an anonymous grant to assist fire-rescue volunteers with education leading careers in public service made its first awards.

Our volunteers are our treasure. Join them. Training is free to all members. Call 556-5304 or visit www.goochlandfire-rescue.org.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen to the fine work of Goochland Fire-Rescue. I owe them a debt.

Doug Kinney