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A Day in the Life: of Colleton County Fire-Rescue

 

By Lauren Mckinnon

Colleton County Fire Rescue workers load hoses and gear onto ladder truck. Photos by Lauren Mckinnon

Colleton County Fire Rescue workers load hoses and gear onto ladder truck. Photos by Lauren Mckinnon

There is no such thing as a “typical” day in the life of a firefighter or paramedic. Each day brings something new. If there were three house fires yesterday, there could be a car accident, a shooting, or a woman going into labor unexpectedly today. In Colleton County, the men and women who douse the blazes that threaten our homes and property are the same ones who come to our aid when we are sick or injured.

These men and women have gained a broad, yet very specialized, field of knowledge that is paramount in the safety of our community. Their skill set is multi-faceted. They are trained in areas such as emergency medical treatment, handling hazardous materials and chemical spills, fire fighting, prevention and protection, equipment and apparatus maintenance and operation, computer technologies, public relations and education. Some, like Firefighter/Paramedic Steve Sanders, even have specialized training in dive rescues and fighting forest fires.

Among the ever-continuing training they receive, one thing that can never be taught is the passion for the job and the compassion for the people they help. Sanders explained that in the short ride to the hospital you build a connection with the patients.

“I always like to check back with my patients. If I am back in the ER after another call, I will pop in and say hello and see how they are doing,” said Sanders.

Sanders is a Firefighter and Paramedic with Colleton County Fire Rescue. He has nearly 30 years experience and has worked all over the country, from Denver and Aspen, CO to Killeen, TX.

Shift starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends the next morning at the same time. For 24 hours they are on call and may not sleep at all during their shift. While a standard shift is 24 hours, sometimes they might work 48 hours. But they do it because they are called to do it.

Firefighter/paramedic Steve Sanders fights brush fire with Command supervision.

Firefighter/paramedic Steve Sanders fights brush fire with Command supervision.

Once everyone has arrived, the men at Station 19 meet in the bay for an informal morning meeting to discuss any business that needs to be taken care of for the day. Battalion Chiefs Joseph Campbell and Scott Feather and Captain Richard Sheffield instruct the crew on any training that may be due, upcoming meetings, or basic maintenance that needs to be taken care of around the station.

After the morning meeting is over everyone finds something to do to keep busy. Sometimes there may be hours without any calls so they find ways to stay productive. Firefighter/EMT Cody Hutto works to make sure the ambulance is stocked with the correct supplies, while Sanders polishes chrome and buffs the ambulance. Keeping the trucks in pristine condition shows dedication, and these men take pride in what they do.

When they aren’t out on a call, they can be found in the station cleaning the ambulances, fire engines, and other equipment, testing generators and rolling hoses, taking stock of medical supplies, reading study materials, training at the tower, or even doing chores around the station like cleaning the kitchen or hanging mailboxes. The fire station isn’t just an office. It is a second home. There are bedrooms, showers, kitchens, and even living rooms.

As well as the station being a second home, the firefighters and paramedics are like a second family to each other. There is a strong sense of brotherhood among the men of Station 19.

When the tones sound over the radio, everyone stops whatever they are doing and runs to the ambulance or fire engine. As dispatch relays the call information from 911 over the radio, the guys are already on their way to a brush fire with lights and sirens blaring.

Once on scene, everything runs like a well-oiled machine. The firefighters position the engines, throw on their bunker gear and unroll hoses within seconds. Nearly 20 men surround the fire and begin to extinguish it. One firefighter takes command. He supervises every aspect, making sure all his men are safe, and that the fire is contained, meanwhile keeping in constant contact with dispatch to let them know the status of the call. Fire Chief Barry McRoy also arrives on scene, supervising and documenting the incident.

Almost as quickly as it began, it is over. The firefighters roll up their hoses, pack up their gear and head back to the station while Engineer Chuck Moyer and another firefighter stay behind to fill out a report of the incident.

Once back at the station the men continue what they were doing before they left, and wait for the next call.

The next call may be in 20 minutes, or in four hours, but there will always be another call; and when it comes, there will be the brave men of Station 19, as well as all the heroic men and women of Colleton County Fire Rescue to answer that call without hesitation. These firefighters and paramedics were born with something special. They do a job that most of us will never have the strength to do. They don’t do it for recognition or riches. They do it because it’s their calling.

Editor’s Note:

 “A day in the life,” is an ongoing series that we will have this year focusing on individual positions within our City and County government, giving you a more in-depth look into various jobs in our community.

 

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