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Tusten fireman sounds alarm

June 15, 2011

Narrowsburg Fire Commissioner Craig Burkle alerted the Tusten Town Board of the critical need for more volunteers, both for the fire department and the emergency response team.

“We desperately need volunteers, especially for our emergency crew,” he said. “Mainly, we need drivers for both. The need for emergency medical technicians (EMT) is critical. We had three and we lost one.”

Burkle said that any volunteer would have to get a physical. “The department would pay the $150 for the examination,” he said.

It costs about $3,000 for the firefighter’s gear. “Every volunteer would need about 125 hours of training. That can discourage some people, but it is necessary if you are going to be a functioning firefighter.”

Each responder would need to know cardiopulmonary resuscitation, he said.

The EMTs have to fill three shifts: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 5 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 7 a.m.

Some residents at the meeting of the town board on June 13 suggested that the departments merge with neighboring departments who must be experiencing the same needs.

“Merging is happening in some towns,” Burkle said. “Maybe we could merge with Yulan,” someone said.

The ambulance charges a fee so it is not in dire financial straits. “We need bodies.” When someone suggested that the department aim a campaign at the local high schools, Burkle said, “We have found that they serve until they graduate and then they go to college and sometimes don’t come back. It’s an expense to train them and have them leave when they get older.” Burkle warned that if they had to pay firefighters and EMTs, the taxes would go up sharply. “We don’t want that to happen, but we may have to do it.”