Grant and Denaca Moorse
State YF&R Committee Chair
Living in rural America is amazing, being out of the “big city” the peacefulness and the quiet that a summer night can bring. All of the sudden you hear sirens in the distance, and you think to yourself that someone’s life has been altered in some way.
Whether it be a medical emergency that first responders and EMT’s rush to the scene to give lifesaving care, or the lambing barn that burst into flames as a result of faulty wiring. Either way these are terrible things, and all need the attention of rural fire departments, first responders and EMTs.
Rural America is seeing a major decline in the number of people that are willing to be the ones that will volunteer their time to help others. Whether it is a decline in population, an aging population, working outside of the community or employers that don’t understand the role of these volunteer departments – this shortage is a safety issue to be addressed in our rural communities.
Living in Minneota, we are dealing with a prime example of this. A few years ago, I joined the volunteer fire department. Luckily. we are able to keep our 26-person fire department fully staffed (at the moment), but with a quarter of our department set to retire in the next four years that may not be obtainable.
Also in our small town, we recently lost our ambulance service due to short staffing issues which is putting Minneota and the surrounding towns and townships at risk of not having adequate medical services with the closest ambulance to the furthest township taking at least 20 minutes to make it to the scene.
Unfortunately, our story is similar to many other communities in the United States. There is a shortage of willing individuals to step up to the plate for their communities.
Some may wonder about what type of commitment is required? One of the biggest demands for someone interested in being a part of any EMS or fire squad is time. To be a firefighter, there are over 140 hours of training involved. Every department is different. We have a meeting night and a drill night each month that the firefighters need to attend. Any emergency call that you can go to are also part of those time requirements.
All in all, if you are able and willing, I strongly encourage you consider volunteering with your local EMS services. Learn more at mnfirehire.com and health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/resources/ems/recruit.html. Also talk to your local city council members or any emergency personnel you may know as they can give you the first-hand answers for the questions you may have.
At the very least explore it, learn about the benefits of being part of the team that works together to make your community a place people are proud to call home.