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Volunteer Fire Department fights for staffing, resources


AND WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO ANSWER THE CALL ON TIME.>>WHEN I WAS LITTLE, MY DREAM JOB WAS TO BE A FIREFIGHTER. REPORTER: AND NICKI FOWLIE WILL LIKELY RESPOND. THE SMCC STUDENT IS INTERNING AT GOODWIN’S MILLS FIRE DEPARTMENT, GETTING FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE AND FILLING A VOID . IT’S THE REALITY FOR 23,000 VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS. HERE IN MAINE, 150 SCRAMBLE DAILY TO FIND FIREFIGHTERS, OFTEN USING STUDENTS, AND PAYING VOLUNTEERS PER SHIFT OR PER CALL. A SYSTEM FIRE CHIEF ROGER HOOPER CALLS ARCHAIC.>>THIS PER DIEM APPROACH IS A BAND-AID. IT’S HELPING, BUT IT’S NOT A LONG-TERM SOLUTION. REPORTER: THERE ARE LITTLE MORE THAN A THOUSAND PAID, FULLTIME FIREFIGHTERS IN MAINE. GOODWIN’S MILLS, ONLY HAS 3, SO STATIONS SHARE 3,000 VOLUNTEERS ACROSS MAINE — ACROSS THE STATE.>>I WILL REPORT MY ROSTER, SACO FIRE DEPARTMENT WILL REPORT THEIRS, ARUNDEL WILL REPORT THEIRS, AND WE’VE GOT THE SAME PEOPLE MAKING RESPONSE DIFFICULT — WE HAVE GOT THE SAME PEOPLE. REPORTER: MAKING RESPONSE DIFFICULT WHEN MULTIPLE STATIONS DEPEND ON THE SAME PERSON. CHIEF HOOPER SAYS WITHOUT FULLTIME POSITIONS, THE ISSUE IS GETTING ENOUGH VOLUNTEERS LIKE JAIME MOUZAS THROUGH TRAINING WHILE BALANCING FAMILIES AND JOBS. >>GOING THROUGH SIX MONTHS AT THE FIRE ACADEMY, GOING THROUGH SEVEN MONTHS TO GET MY EMS LICENSE. REPORTER: AND ANOTHER EIGHT TO BECOME AN EMT ALL ON HIS OWN TIME. HE LEFT ONE CAREER TO BECOME A FIREFIGHTER. LIKE NICKI, HE HOPES TO FIND THE RARE FULLTIME JOB.>>IT’S ALWAYS A STRUGGLE. I CONSTANTLY THINK ABOUT DID I MAKE THE WRONG DECISION. REPORTER: FULLTIME STAFF FEEL THE STRESS TOO. THEY’RE OFTEN PAIRED WITH A VOLUNTEER OR STUDENT DURING THE DAY. BUT AT NIGHT THEY WORK ALONE.>>ONE PERSON ON DOES NOT STOP THE — STAFF THE AMBULANCE. YOU CAN’T LEAVE WITHOUT A DRIVER AND AN EMT. REPORTER: THEY CAN WAIT UP TO TEN MINUTES FOR A VOLUNTEER.>>MINUTES CAN SAVE LIVES AND SOMETIMES THOSE ARE THE MINUTES THAT WE’RE SACRIFICING. >>SOMEBODY NEEDS TO ANSWER WHEN SOMEONE CALLS 911. REPORTER: TODAY, IT’S CRYSTAL BERRY, AN EMT WITH HOLLIS FI DEPARTMENT. THEY’RE ALSO FEELING THE PINCH, AND THE NEED FOR SPECIALLY TRAINED FIREFIGHTERS. >>FOR EMS PROVIDERS TO BE ABLE TO WORK, TO BE ON CALL OVERNIGHT, WE HAVE A LOT OF HOLES IN THE MONTHLY SCHEDULE. REPORTER: THERE’S A NEED FOR EMS VOLUNTEERS AND THOSE TRAINED IN SPECIFIC RESCUES, LIKE THE DAY CHIEF CHRIS YOUNG ONLY HAD ONE VOLUNTEER TO HELP CUT A CRASH VICTIM OUT OF A CAR. >>IF WE HAD HAD TWO OR THREE MORE PEOPLE FOR THAT PARTICULAR CALL, IT WOULD HAVE MADE THE EXTRICATION A LOT EASIER. REPORTER: THEIR STRUGGLES, GETTING VOLUNTEERS TRAINED, SPECIALIZED, AND ON SCHEDULES, ALL WITHOUT A SALARY IS A STRAIN ON THE FRAGILE SYSTE>>THAT MAKES IT SO THAT THEY’RE EXHAUSTED AND THEY’RE NOT ABLE TO DO THE 3 NIGHTS A WEEK LIKE THEY USED TO. THEY HAVE TO CUT THAT BACK IN ORDER TO CATCH UP ON THEIR SLEEP AND BE ABLE TO FUNCTION AT THEIR REGULAR JOBS. REPORTER: IN PART TWO, WE’LL LOOK AT WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO CREATE MORE FULL TIME POSITIONS, ATTRACT MORE FIREFIGHTERS, AND SAVE MORE LIVES.>>IT’S A NEED, IT’S SOMETHING THAT CAN’T BE AVOIDED FOR MUCH LONGER. REPORTER: KYLE JONES, WMTW NEWS

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