Firefighters and EMS deserve appreciation
Those of us who live in Jamestown have an inkling of how great an impact volunteers have on the quality of our lives. Volunteers contribute to our health and safety, entertainment, education, cultural diversity – our overall sense of community.
If you don’t live in Jamestown, your community most likely has an army of volunteers helping the wheels turn. What you may not experience at home, and may not even realize while visiting Jamestown, is reliance on volunteers as emergency responders: firefighters, emergency medical technicians, ambulance drivers, divers, boat captains, etc.
They are an amazing cadre of men and women who undertake extensive training, ongoing certification and training, and who are on call 24/7 to support their town and help our residents and visitors alike.
During last month’s Newport Folk Festival, I can only guess how many calls our dedicated fire and rescue volunteers responded to this weekend. By 2:30 p.m. one day, Rescue 1 was responding to its third call of the day. The Newport Pell Bridge was like a parking lot. Emergency vehicles only had access via oncoming lanes. Personnel was “suited up.” It was 90 degrees in the shade.
It reminded me of Fourth of July weekend in 2003. I had just moved to Jamestown. I lived in the Bay View Condos, overlooking the downtown waterfront. On that Sunday I witnessed three occasions where personnel was called out for a water emergency. Each time I saw the same cars pull into the lot, the same individuals in full gear, running toward the rescue boat. It was another blistering hot afternoon. I was overwhelmed by the selflessness of these people, these neighbors.
Shortly after that, Friends of the Jamestown Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service was formed. Its purpose was to raise awareness of the departments to our residents and guests – to remind everyone about these terrific people in their midst and to encourage more people to volunteer.
Recently the departments have merged together. They are still the great individuals they’ve always been. Generations of families continue to volunteer, and “Friends” are no longer needed.
But we cannot take these people for granted. They are our lifeblood, sometimes literally. Give them room on the streets. Support their causes. Contribute to their upkeep. Above all, thank them.