By Jasmine Willis
Imagine an inferno engulfing everything you own as you feel powerless to fight it, or feeling trapped in a twisted pretzel of metal as you wait for help to arrive to pull you out of an accident.
The brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day when you are having your worst day are first responders. These fire fighters and EMT’s are trained to battle fires, pull you out of wrecks, and give you proper medical care on scene.
The Springwater/Wayland EMS has combined with all other fire departments and ambulances in Steuben County to create an all-access website to the first responders.
SWEMS Chief Fred Grambs came up with the idea for this non-profit Google website. It gives all the proper information on how to volunteer, which department is in your district, and the forms to fill out on the site.
“It is about bringing all of the agencies together. Some might not know what agency to turn to about volunteering. These forms will all go to the proper department. It is about cross promoting,” Grambs said. “We want to promote the agency where everyone lives. We all want to work together on this project. We all need to get more volunteers.”
Grambs said the departments all saw an interest in having this website to generate more awareness. He is hopeful the younger generation will get involved.
“We haven’t had the website up very long. We are still discussing a few ideas. We are all interested in expanding our Juniors program. They are the future of all the departments. All of the agencies have their own requirements on handling the programs. They can sit down and talk with the volunteers about their process,” he said. “We are not just an ambulance or a fire department. We teach life skills that will help these kids no matter what they decided to do in the future. We are always looking for ways to build on those skills. They learn how to help people on the worst days of their lives, and help with administrative work.”
Grambs added there are members who feel called to serve both the ambulance and the fire department. However, you can only be part of one fire department at a time.
“There are so many ways to volunteer. For the people who don’t want to get into the action they can help in other ways. They can help as social members and auxiliary. You can be a board member and help with administration. We have people who feel more comfortable handling the paperwork,” he said. “I know we need people to answer the phones and be on the committees. There are other ways to answer the call to serve.”
As we approach the 20th Anniversary of September 11 we will never forget the first responders who gave all to save many. Grambs said many of the first responders signed up after the worst day in America. They all felt that call after many brothers and sisters sacrificed their lives. Many fire departments and ambulances rushed to the aid.
Grambs has been an EMT since 1994. He was in Queens when 9/11 shattered the lives of all Americans. He will never forget what he saw that day when his unit witnessed that horror. Grambs has spent 27 years on the call. He will never forget that day.
“I was covering South Queens that day. There was no one available since everyone was at the towers. It impacted the entire region. It was a very bad day. The phone system didn’t work since it was all through the towers. We were driving around to see if anyone flagged us down if we were needed. What I witnessed that day was everyone doing what they could to help others. It is in our nature in this country to reach out and help each other,” he said.
Many of the departments depend on donations. Grambs said the best way to learn how to donate to the departments is to go to their own social media or websites. There is usually a donation button. Everyone does things differently.
The new volunteer website for Steuben County will direct everyone to their own fire departments and ambulances. There will be a sheet that goes to all the departments to let them know about volunteer interest. Some people who worked the jobs in the city for years will come back to volunteer in the country since they still feel the call to serve.
Grambs said the country departments are the volunteer pipeline that often gets people interested in life long careers, and will get them the hours they need to get the city jobs. Some people even work in the medical aspect of the job and find they enjoy that more than the fire department or being a driver. They get the training that is needed to be a medic. The requirements are different no matter what your interests are in the departments.
Grambs reflected on the family aspect of the ambulance and fire departments. All the men and women come together after a bad call and talk about it. They are all there for one another no matter what. The departments all come together for one another if a member has passed away. It really is a family. Maybe the youth who are looking for that kind of bond or family-aspect in a job would be interested in the Junior program.
Grambs added he would like to focus on military who are looking for another way to serve. There are some who join the fire department or ambulance after the training they got in the military leads them to pursue that calling when they come home. The ambulance got its start in the military. There are plenty of military medics who continue that passion in the ambulance. There are plenty of soldiers who continue that passion in the fire department.
Grambs wants all veterans to know they have a home in any department.
The areas covered are Springwater, Wayland, Perkinsville, Dansville, Cohocton, Cohocton Valley, Atlanta, and N. Cohocton.
For more information on how to volunteer, your district fire departments, the forms, and first responders of Steuben County you can visit the first website of its kind here https://www.volunteersteuben.us/?fbclid=IwAR0KPwXca8lAqUlfdKGQxZgvx9Syc8HxwhEyk5ul9iKAKquT5XvdhL3UZA8