Wanted: Volunteers to ‘Be Somebody’Volunteer firefighters will be out in force Friday night, asking others to “Be Somebody” by joining their local fire department.
Volunteer firefighters will be out in force Friday night, asking others to “Be Somebody” by joining their local fire department.
The annual firefighter and emergency medical services (EMS) campaign aims to increase public awareness that emergency response in rural areas is generally provided by volunteers and most small town fire and EMS departments are actively recruiting new members.
The kickoff takes place from 3-6 p.m. along U.S. Highway 2 in Brule. Personnel from more than 30 departments will be arriving between 3-4 p.m. to answer questions show apparatus. Also scheduled is an on site three-hour remote broadcast with WNXR radio (107.3) featuring their “Q-Ball” show personality.
After the kick off and through Friday evening, volunteer departments and organizations will stay visible in their individual communities. Departments will station rigs and volunteers in higher traffic areas to emphasize their “24 hours a day, seven days a week” commitment to provide emergency services. Major corridors including Highways 2, 13, 35,63,27,70, and various county trunks, will have fire and ambulance department volunteers, emergency vehicles, and signs saying “Be Somebody” and “Help Wanted.”
Recruitment and retention is the number one challenge for volunteer emergency service organizations. The need is not only for firefighters, rescue personnel and EMS responders, but also for volunteers to fill roles such as fire hall and vehicle maintenance, secretary, treasurer, fire inspections and food preparation during emergencies.
Communities have long relied on the commitment and dedication of volunteers to provide quality, professional, cost effective emergency service for their citizens in the time of need. In fact, a 2004 “Cost Savings Study and Calculator” released by the National Volunteer Fire Council documents that each fire or EMS volunteers save their community an average of $45,000 per year.
The many benefits of being an emergency response volunteer include helping neighbors, becoming involved in the community, sharing in department camaraderie, learning career building skills and participating in service award/retirement programs. Community members are encouraged to stop and discuss these opportunities with department members during this event.
The “Be Somebody” phone line has been established to aid those interested in becoming emergency services volunteers. Interested groups or individuals may call 888-926-1676 and leave a message indicating what service they are interest in and it will be forwarded to the appropriate department chief or director who will return their call and answer questions.
The “Be Somebody – Fire/EMS Recruiting Campaign” was established in 1997 by Jan Victorson, Director of Bayfield County Emergency Management, and Chief Keith Kesler of the Brule Fire Department with funding provided by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The event involves most departments in Douglas and Bayfield Counties, with frequent participation from neighboring counties throughout Northwest Wisconsin.