It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally we do have major events such as fire, emergency rescue and EMS calls in our area. The problem that we seem to have when one of these events occur is an adequate number of personnel to respond.
On August 9th there was a significant motor vehicle crash on Stoney Pt. Road. This day happened to be one of those days where the only volunteer immediately available for VRFPD was the duty officer. The training kicked in and the officer radioed in for assistance from both Scappoose Fire and Mist-Birkenfeld Fire. A few of our volunteers were able make it to the call with a delay due to their immediate availability, and we also had an off duty Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue Firefighter assist as well.
The extrication, although lengthy, was a success and the patient was transported by Life Flight in stable condition. Given the circumstances, the outcome was a positive one.
VRFPD pays one person to make sure that the trucks can roll, that at least one rescue personnel will respond to the call and to organize the scene. Unavailability is becoming more common among the few fire volunteers that we do have. They are busy working two jobs, attending their children’s activities, taking care of household chores, and spending what little time that they have left over with family. Their demanding schedules make it difficult, and at times impossible, to stop what they are doing and provide service for another in need. During the week, the majority of the volunteers are out of town. Some have a condensed work week and may have availability to respond some days, if they are not already overwhelmed with the list of things they need to get done when they are home. But like the majority of the working population in Vernonia, our volunteers don’t return back into town until the evening.
The nine active volunteer firefighters that currently provide service to the community within the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District, work tirelessly to keep up to date on training, respond to calls and community events, all while trying to maintain a personal life. Currently, five volunteer duty officers take turns working shifts each weeknight and weekends. With summer in full swing and school rapidly approaching, time for these volunteers gets stretched pretty thin.
The fact is your fire district needs help filling the gaps in response time. With the volunteer’s overflowing schedules, it is evident that there is a need for more personnel. This will better the odds that more than one responder will be available for your emergencies. The time to discuss the importance of the fire department in the community, and how responders can better serve you is now.