by Kelly Baldwin, Certified First Responder, Cobleskill Fire Department and Rescue Squad Explorers, post #5
I am a 17-year-old Explorer for the Cobleskill Fire Department and Rescue Squad Explorers, post #5. I Recently became a Certified First Responder for New York State. I love what we do. We help all people at all times, in all conditions, because we want to. I feel indebted to the community for the simple fact that we are fortunate enough to have Volunteer facilities. When I lived in Virginia Beach, all departments were paid and they tended to be expensive.
When we moved to Cobleskill, the Fire Department and Rescue Squad was all I heard about. My uncle was the chief at the time and almost all of my family were involved with it. My dad joined and that was it. . . . All I heard was the stupid scanner going off at all hours of the morning and the awful sounds the tones made. I just wanted to be able to sleep or to hear the T.V., whatever I happened to be doing at the time. It was nothing to me but a big bother.
I was at my uncle's house one night and we were eating dinner. My favorite, lasagna! It had just came out of the oven and we were all sitting down to eat when we heard "Cobleskill Fire and Ambulance Stand By!" It was an MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) and they were off, out the door, in their trucks, blue lights on--to the rescue they went in less that a minute. I didn't know people that old could move that fast. I was in pure amazement how anyone could even want to leave a delicious, hot meal on the table and run to see a car wreck.
When they all got back, they ate dinner while all of us girls just talked. They went on and on about these weird four digit numbers that they named every truck and names of the tools that they used to cut the three children and a woman out of this car. I was amazed! They talked about the infamous "Jaws Of Life," which was only something you saw on T.V. That was the turning point for me.
On my 14th birthday I went to the firehouse because I wanted to join the explorer post the very day I was able to. It just so happened that my birthday fell on a Wednesday. Every Wednesday is Fire Department drill night. I was ecstatic. It wasn't two minutes after I received my gear that we had a call. I could feel my adrenaline pumping through my body. This was "Awesome Possum" as I would say. We were dispatched to an accident on Main street. My first call! I rode in the ambulance (#5091). When we got there a car had been rear ended. The people that had hit them were fine, but the mother and the 6-year-old, scared little girl in the other car were not. The mother "Lacie" couldn't feel anything from her neck down and was also screaming. She was petrified. As a result of "Lacie" being so emotional (rightfully so) the daughter "Wendy" was screaming. I went to the little girl, holding one of our stuffed puppies and not sure of what to say. She didn't know anyone there except her mother and was as frightened as anyone I have ever seen. I went over to her and told her my name. I handed her the puppy and she clenched it for dear life. She calmed down. I explained to her that I need to hold her neck in case she was hurt. She complied. We finally got them out of the car and in the ambulance. She grabbed my hand as we were loading her and didn't let go the whole way there. Our EMS coordinator had to take a set of vitals but "Wendy" wouldn't let anyone near her. Then I asked if I could do it and she said, "As long as you don't let go." I took her vitals and they were fine. We got to the hospital and she wouldn't let me leave until she saw her mother. I sat there with her, astounded by the comfort she felt with me, a complete stranger. She asked me questions about the fire trucks and other little kids. She fell fast asleep still holding my hand. Then her Grandfather and Father came rushing in the room to see her. They asked who I was. I explained to them that I was one of the responders that went on the call and she had asked me not to leave. She was afraid. Therefore, I stayed until her family got there. They thanked me for my thoughtfulness and said I could stay if I wanted. I decided to leave the girl with her family. I slipped my hand out of hers and she opened her eyes. She looked around and saw her father and Grandfather. They immediately started consoling her and tears welled up in her eyes. She asked me where I was going and I told her I had to leave. She asked me if she would ever see me again and I told her hopefully. I left my address at the registration desk with one of my friends that worked there. I asked her to make sure "Wendy" and/or her mom "Lacie" got it. She said no problem.
I went home that night amazed at how selfish I used to be. How I used to whine everytime the scanner went off, or laugh at some of the things that the emergency crews were dispatched for. Now I realize that no matter how insignificant I think it is, to them, it is an important emergency where they are needed. It can be the little things that you do that can make a world of difference to others. Now that I have had this experience, I encourage everyone to do something nice for their community. It can help.
Oh, yeah . . . two weeks after that, "Lacie" called me and thanked me for helping her daughter. She said that "Wendy" had not stopped talking about how the different fire trucks help different people in different situations. She said that she couldn't thank me enough. She still calls me regularly. "Wendy" escaped with scrapes, bumps, and bruises. Mom had a little bit more trouble with her back, but is recovering nicely, with physical therapy, last time I talked with them.
The author can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2001 by Kelly Baldwin. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the author.