The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Ask not what your county can do for You, Ask what You can do for your county?

By Sally Day for the Quill

Volunteer - "a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task." That was the official definition when it was Googled.

Most of us either have volunteered or are volunteering for something. Sometimes we do so at school, at church, other organizations we belong to, or for our communities.

Most of the villages in Henderson County are in need of volunteers now. I am sure the need for volunteers covers nearly all organizations and entities. But I am talking about EMTs and First Responders. We are in very bad need of these volunteers.

My youngest son and his wife purchased me a scanner last year. I have been listening to it for nearly a year, my ears perking up when the need for firemen and ambulance personnel is in Henderson County.

I have been very surprised, as most times when Stronghurst is called out, the dispatcher calls out for emergency personnel at least three times. Then the call goes out to Biggsville, generally. After three times or so, the call finally goes out to Gladstone.

If these calls were dire emergencies or if these calls pertained to your family members, how would you feel? I can tell you how you would feel...scared, to say the least.

Nine years ago, was the first time I had ever called for an ambulance. My husband, Mike, was having a heart attack.

I was very scared and attempting not to show it. I called the Sheriff's Department rather than 911, hoping this would expedite the procedure. The Sheriff's Department is where all of the ambulances are dispatched.

After I placed the first call, seconds ticked away...they seemed like minutes. I know it wasn't long, but I called back the Sheriff's Department, asking if they had sent the ambulance.

They very calmly told me the process for sending out ambulance personnel. First, the call comes in, then the Sheriff's Department calls via radio for the needed volunteers. They need to drive or run to the Ambulance Barn and start an ambulance.

In many cases, they need to wait on another person or persons to join the crew. State law mandates that an ambulance cannot leave without two EMTs. Henderson County states that they need three people before the ambulance can roll.

It truly was not long on that November night back in 2009 before the ambulance arrived and three incredibly qualified individuals began working on my husband. But it seemed like an eternity before the ambulance arrived.

Now, that is how it feels to be on the business end of an ambulance call. And, I should have known. Why? Because I spent time in Blandinsville as a volunteer fireman and an EMT.

I found when it is your family, you forget everything you had learned about the time constraints it takes to get an ambulance to your home or emergency scene.

And that call was average...when the county had enough volunteers to cover the many calls.

There is another organization, NIMS, National Incident Management System, which began years ago because of personal egos on fire departments and police departments. There was a time when these two organizations did not communicate well...across the board. Even with this organization, we still deal with these problems, even on a local level. It is my belief, that when you do volunteer for one of these groups, you do so without an ego. Not easy, but totally doable.

The Sheriff's Department and the Ambulance Department are doing the best that they can to entice volunteers and to get those volunteers trained so they can serve the county.

These two departments have joined forces and have begun a First Responders Class, to begin January 12th. There is only room for ten people in these classes. There will be more classes after this one.

Not everyone is cut out to be a First Responder or an EMT, but if you are, Henderson County needs you.

It will take some time; it will take some courage; and it will take some selflessness.

So, what does the county need from you? Your time, your sense of community.

So, please, volunteer. Volunteer to be a First Responder or an EMT for Henderson County.