Archive for Thursday, December 7, 2006

EMS chief hopes class will produce new volunteers

December 7, 2006

Having finally convinced Douglas County to schedule a first-responder class, Eudora Emergency Medical Service Executive Director Bill Vigneron now wants to recruit enough new members to fill it.

"I told the county we needed new members badly and the only way to get new members was to offer a training class," Vigneron said. "The county offered to pay for the expense, which was really nice."

The training class will begin in January and run through April 19.

Vigneron started Eudora EMS in 1987 and said he worried about not having enough volunteers to keep the service active.

"We respond to at least one call a day," he said. "We currently have 10 volunteers. We try to have three people on each shift and it's getting to be too much for our volunteers."

Current members are Eudora residents Randy Ates, Rene Barta, Kristine Chapman-Keezer, Yvette Gadberry, Kim Kerby, Dustin McAfee, Sarah Nordin, Doug Rhoades, Avi Elpern and Vigneron.

Nordin, assistant EMS director, said a shift starts at 6 p.m. Monday and ends at the same time the following Monday.

"We're on call every three weeks for a week at a time," she said. "We're so low on people, and it would be nice to have more so we're not on call as often."

Nordin said being on call meant being available for monthly meetings, being around to respond to calls and helping with an occasional fund-raiser.

Vigneron said the training consisted of 22 four-hour classes and at least 12 people must participate.

Vigneron, who said only one person has signed up for the class so far, said he specifically chose this time of year to promote the training class.

"I'm doing this around Thanksgiving and Christmas for two reasons," he said. "I think everyone in the community is thankful for this service, but they don't really know what we do. We respond when ambulances are called. Also, Christmas is a time to give and if someone can't give money, well, maybe they can give their time."

Vigneron said he appreciated living in a small community because of people's willingness to help.

"People here are more community-oriented," he said. "If something is going to be done, we're going to have to have volunteers to do it."

Nordin said she was optimistic the class would fill.

"We haven't had a lot of response yet, but I would say (I'm optimistic)," she said.

Nordin said she has been volunteering for Eudora EMS for about four or five years.

"I started in EMS many, many moons ago," she said. "There is such a need to help somebody. There are times you feel frustrated, but then you remember why you got into it. You're helping others."

As he closes in on retirement, Vigneron said he was concerned about the future of Eudora EMS.

"My biggest concern is that it will fall apart," he said. "I want it to keep getting stronger and better."

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