If you live in a small town, chances are your emergency services are outsourced to your county, or else you have volunteers.In our town, we have two police officers that work part-time. When they aren’t on duty, we rely on the county sherriff’s office to handle anything we need.
In the case of a fire, we rely on less than a dozen volunteers.
One of them is my husband.
I have always had great respect for anyone willing to put themselves in harms way to serve their community, whether it be as a police officer, fireman, or an EMT. Most make a career out of it, but to me the most special ones are those that do it for free. The volunteers. The ones that get out of their warm beds in the middle of the night as soon as that pager starts wailing. The men and women that leave in the middle of a family dinner to respond to a car accident, a person who fell in their home, or a house fire because someone fell asleep with a lit cigarette still burning.
Do they get paid? Well, technically yes. They receive a small payment ( a few dollars) for each call they respond to, to provide some reimbursement for gas.
If someone falls in their house and my husband is gone for an hour helping, he gets a few dollars. If he responds to an accident involving a drunk driver, and it takes 5 hours to get someone cut out of a vehicle and then get the mess cleaned up, he gets the same few dollars.
It’s certainly not about the money, as the title “Volunteer Firefighter” certainly doesn’t sound like it should be a paid position. And we’re OK with that. These are people that are showing up when needed because of their sense of duty and responsibility to their community. They offer their time to their friends and neighbors because they have a strong work ethic, and that’s just what they do. Not only that, but they are donating their personal time to attend meetings at the fire station, pursue training and continuing education, and maintaining their certifications in CPR and First Aid– all on their own time.
All of this is in addition to their full-time jobs, their family obligations and free time.
In Iowa, there are approximately 15,500 firefighters currently serving, many of whom are volunteers. Thank you to each and every one of them.