LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — As we enter Emergency Medical Services Week, abc27 is taking a look at how our own are faring in the Midstate. Nationally and locally, some extra hands would help out in the field.
The term “emergency services” is all-encompassing. If you call 911, a dispatcher will answer and send fire, police and/or an ambulance to you. But only if there is someone to answer and respond to the call.
“So people ask, or people think, well, somebody’s coming to save me, right? And, and that is true. But we don’t ever want to get to the point where that’s not true,” said Ted Czech, information officer with the York County Office of Emergency Management.
Czech says keeping all sectors of emergency services staffed is a trend that is getting harder to keep up with.
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“So you can see it’s, it’s a continuum,” said Czech.
But this problem is not particular to York County.
“I remember the first fire I went to. That first one always sticks with you,” said Collin Weigle, assistant fire chief at Colonial Park Fire Company.
Weigle joined the Colonial Park Fire Company about eight years ago as a volunteer.
“I think we had about 10 people living here at the firehouse. We always had about two whole crews worth of people actually here with a whole, probably two hands full of home responders as well coming in for calls,” Weigle added.
Now, Weigle says that is becoming more difficult.
“It’s really decreased dramatically,” Weigle said. He says rooms have opened up at the firehouse with just three to four live-ins and a handful of home responders.
“We’re always looking for volunteers. Not just Colonial Park, every fire company volunteer in any county surrounding us,” Weigle said.
And when you help one, you help all. There are volunteer fire companies in Colonial Park, Linglestown and Paxtonia.
“We’re still, with the exception of my position, 100% volunteer staffed in the township,” said Brett Graham, deputy fire chief in Lower Paxton Township.
Graham and Weigle say volunteers are few and far between these days.
“If we only have two or three people on the fire truck to do six person job. Or, like I said, we’re really stacking them on top of a couple of people to really do a lot of strenuous work,” said Weigle.
Anyone who does choose to volunteer takes the extra weight off an already 75-pound uniform and sometimes life-threatening job.