Raising Awareness on Volunteers Needed in Emergency Services

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: June 08, 2019 10:52 PM

The Be Somebody Fire/EMS recruiting event in Brule, Wisconsin, Saturday focused on raising awareness on the shortages of volunteers in emergency services.


Emergency responders are always there for us during the scariest times in our lives. A lot of them are volunteers and right now there's a challenge in recruiting more volunteers to provide emergency services, especially in Douglas County.

Being there for somebody during a life or death situation and giving back to the community is what volunteer fire and EMS crews said inspired them to sign up for their role.

"You get a satisfaction from a job you completed, went through training, put all the hard work into, to walk away knowing you helped someone is probably better than getting any paycheck,” Darryl Fiegle, the fire chief for the Town of Superior Fire Department, said.

"When you dial 911, typically the first people on scene are from volunteer fire or volunteer medical agencies," Nova Nordrum, the chief of the Lakeside Volunteer Fire Department, said.

"I wasn't drafted for the Vietnam War but I felt like I needed to repay that so I volunteered for the volunteer fire department to help," Tygar Leveque, the chief for the Port Wing Volunteer Fire Department, said.

Unfortunately, there is a challenge in recruitment and retention of volunteers.

"Members are not paid to show up for calls and hours of trainings, which takes time away from family and their other jobs," Nordrum said.

"Our average age in our department is 56 and that's getting there. I’m 70 so we need younger people to join us," Leveque said.

That’s why personnel from over 30 fire departments connected with folks on their experience as volunteer EMS and fire crews to encourage people to join. Fiegle said there’s countless opportunities.

"You can help with maintenance duties, clerical, it's basically like a business. You have to have a treasurer, a president, run meetings, all those things are important,” Fiegle said.

Personnel also showed off the equipment they use to kids.

Since 1997, the Be Somebody campaign has raised awareness on the crucial role volunteers provide to emergency services. It has been funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

"When someone needs your help, you're right next door, instead of having to wait 10 to 15 minutes from someone out of the area,” Fiegle said.

Although it can be a demanding and challenging job, volunteers say it’s rewarding to save lives and help people during their worst day.

"For me, it has become a passion. I truly enjoy it and feel like I am able to do a service to my community that is vital,” Nordrum said.

Those interested in volunteering can call the Be Somebody phone line at 888-926-1676.


Alejandra Palacios

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