PAOLI—Paoli Fire Company has launched a new effort to find more volunteers.
“When someone in our service area needs emergency help, it is most often a group of highly trained volunteers from their own community who answer that call. That’s why our slogan is “Neighbor helping his neighbour”, says Chef Paoli Andrea Testa. “Put simply, we need more of our neighbors to get involved.”
Although Paoli Fire is a mixed service made up of both volunteers and career members, it is run by volunteers, including Testa, and most firefighters are volunteers. Career firefighters/EMTs and paramedic team members work alongside volunteers and supplement the response during times when most volunteers are working.
Some community members might not realize the important roles volunteers play in the fire company or that no experience is needed to join, Testa said.
“One of the really amazing things about Paoli Fire Company is how men and women from different backgrounds and walks of life come together to care for this community,” Testa said. “We offer free training and materials. If you have the will to serve your community in this essential way, we will teach you how.
Paoli Fire Captain Bob Robie, 54, is in his ninth year of volunteering. He was inspired to serve his community by his late brother, who was an EMT and director of a Maine ambulance service. “I chose the firefighter side because I knew every call would be something different, a different adventure,” Robie said. “The challenge, thrill and satisfaction of helping others has made me never look back.”
Robie, who runs the family’s petroleum and fuel analysis businesses, had no previous firefighting experience. It soon didn’t matter anymore. He is certified in basic and advanced firefighting, hazmat awareness and operations, and vehicle rescue. He prides himself on having the skills to help in so many different situations.
Strong friendships that feel like family are formed at the fire company and Robie said there’s nothing more satisfying than working as a team to help a neighbour. “Whether it’s a fire, or someone’s basement is flooded, or there’s some other emergency, we all work together. And people know they’re going to be okay, because we’re here to help them.
Paoli Fire Company members, whether volunteers or professionals, are proud of PFC’s commitment to continuous learning and innovation. In recent years, Paoli Fire:
• Was the first fire company in Pennsylvania to earn the Certified Autism Center™ designation. This designation is granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), meaning Paoli Fire Company’s public-facing and firefighter personnel have been trained by IBCCES to better understand and help people with autism or those with sensory sensitivities. The program was designed to provide staff with scenario-based suggestions for effectively defusing and communicating with people who need their help.
• Became a state-certified Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider, enabling Paoli ambulance crews to run IV lines, administer medications – including nitroglycerin for one person having a heart attack – and performing emergency breathing procedures to help a patient breathe.
• Obtained his EMS for Children certification. The state’s Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC), in partnership with the State Department of Health, Office of Emergency Services, and Board of Health Services, awarded this certification over high level after Paoli Fire proved that this meant several criteria, including that all ambulances carry additional child-friendly equipment, each paramedic and paramedic receives a minimum of four hours of child-specific medical training, and education and training Child-centered community education is provided.
Paoli Fire Company needs emergency and non-emergency volunteers to operate well, Testa stressed. “Whatever your skills, we need you here at the fire company,” Testa said.
Anyone interested in volunteering or learning more about it should visit paolifirecompany.org/content/join/ and click on the red “Learn more about volunteering” button. They can also call the station at 610-644-1712 or attend a training session, held at 7 p.m. every Tuesday at 69 Darby Road.