First Responders Update
Someone asked me recently how some of us can manage to be Chatham Emergency Services volunteer firefighters for Skidaway Division while also being a Skidaway Island Medical First Responder (SIFR). It was the first time I’ve received this question, and I’ve decided to address it in this column.
Everyone should know by now that we are two separate entities. A handful of us volunteer for both. For example, IF we have a fire in The Landings and we also are medical first responders, we will respond to the scene and work as firefighters. Those who are not firefighters, and who are a part of the Fire Rehab Team, will respond to the fire and ensure the firefighters are medically rehabilitated.
As you can imagine, it gets very physically exhausting, and we need to rest. The Rehab Team provides water/Gatorade, snacks, cools us down in special cooling chairs, checks our vitals, and keeps an eye on our well-being before releasing us back to duty. (All of these items are purchased by the Skidaway Island First Responders.)
Without the Rehab Team, we would be severely dehydrated, at risk for cardiac issues, and would be risking our lives more than we should. They have the authority to demand we do not resume firefighting until we are medically cleared to do so. (We like to rush back onto the fire scene and sometimes need to be physically restrained!)
What many don’t know is that the Skidaway Island First Responder Fire Rehab Team doesn’t help only our community. If there is a large structure fire off island, the Rehab Team will pack up the rehab truck and head there for mutual aid. This is a huge undertaking, and most fires can keep firefighters actively working for up to six hours. (This can be in the middle of the night until the sun comes up.)
Recently, there was a large fire on Wilmington Island on June 2 in the mid-afternoon. Our incredible group of SIFR who serve on the Rehab Team, and were available, left whatever they were doing and headed to our station to load up the truck and go. I thank Susan Marr, Anne Lyon, Kathleen Esposito, and Ragan Andres for providing mutual aid to Chatham Emergency Services Wilmington Island Division on that scorching hot afternoon.
Our SIFR Fire Rehab Team is led by Kelly Weaver. She has a trained team, and if there is a fire, she will send out a group text, and everyone who is available will respond and do as they’re trained to do. Speaking for me personally, they’ve helped me immensely when I’m beyond overheated and exhausted from being on a fire ground. It is an invaluable team that should be recognized.
Currently, we have 24 active Skidaway Island First Responders. The Rehabilitation Team roster is as follows:
- Kelly Weaver (Team Leader)
- Anne Lyon
- Anne Rosenbaum
- Susan Marr
- Jay Gleeson
- Brian Burtnik
- Ragan Andres
- Nancy Sheets
- Kathleen Esposito
When you understand what our group does, besides respond to medical emergencies on our island, it gives you a bird’s eye view of what we all do as volunteers. We are a close-knit group, and because there are five of us who are both firefighters and Emergency Medical Responders, it is crucial to have a committed group of SIFR who respond with us to fires.
We love what we do. We always are humbled and appreciative when someone takes the time to acknowledge what we sacrifice every single day to ensure the community stays safe. Whether we are having a dinner party, shopping at Publix, are downtown at an event, or just sitting down to have family dinner, if that pager goes off, we are ready and willing to hop in our cars and respond.
We thank the Skidaway Fire Division for their tireless work in providing fire safety on the island. Our group of firefighters also responds to fires off island. An all page is sent out for manpower, and we firefighters will leave the island to go help other communities fight the fire as well.
Have a great summer, and don’t forget to call 912-355-6688 in case of a fire or medical emergency. We should all always feel very safe and confident that someone has our back!
This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website. Visit landings.org to read the original article. https://landings.org/news/2019/06/19/first-responders-update