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Rural fire and rescue teams lacking in EMTs, need more volunteers

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:09 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - No matter if you’re in the city of Lincoln or in the outskirts of Lancaster County, when you dial 911, you hope that help is there when you need it.

With rural fire and rescue teams lacking volunteers, unfortunately, that’s not always the case and the need for more help is growing.

Volunteer EMTs in rural departments are retirees, farmers, business owners, and moms and dads. They spend their free time helping those who need it most, but right now, there aren’t enough of them on hand.

“If we don’t get people to volunteer, then there’s nobody coming,”

As more houses pop up and more construction goes on in places like Bennet and Waverly, more calls for service are coming through.

“The bulk of our calls are for medical episodes of some kind or accidents where there’s a medical episode going on there as well,” said Norris.

Of the dozens of volunteers on Waverly Fire and Rescue, fewer than half are EMTs.

“When you know people’s safety is involved, we try to scrounge up whatever we can come up with and hope for the best we can,” said Chief Jared Rains.

Over in Bennet, the dip in help is the same.

“They say they wanted to get involved, but then they, say this isn’t a good fit,” Norris said. “It makes it difficult.”

Many of those volunteers live and work in Lincoln, so they say responding out in the county day to day can be hard.

“Having to possibly leave work is the financial part of it. Then, you have to be away from your family, which is tough having to be away to be on these calls,” Rains said.

Those emergency calls made during daytime hours are even worse for volunteers to respond to.

“Sometimes, you’re at dinner, mowing the lawn or at family activities for kids games. It’s always a balancing act between my personal life and giving back to the community.”

“If there weren’t men and women that do this job, if I called 911 potentially, nobody would show up or there’s a chance that nobody would show up. That’s a lot to think about. So, I do as much as i can to help out.”

If you’d like to volunteer, both departments say it’s a tough, but rewarding commitment. For more information on how to volunteer with Bennet Fire & Rescue, click HERE and for Waverly Fire and Rescue, click HERE.

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