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HG Fire, rescue companies perform many duties w/listings

September 14, 2007

Twenty-six volunteer companies serve Washington County, according to John Latimer IV, director of Washington County Fire and Emergency Services.

Latimer said qualified volunteers can perform office functions, provide basic medical assistance and fight fires.

Although each company differs slightly in its admission process, prospective volunteers generally must apply for membership, Latimer said. Company members vote on new candidates, and the initial levels of fire and medical-emergency training usually are free, he said.

Volunteers also can work in administrative roles, Latimer said.

Several companies - including Williamsport Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Services and First Hagerstown Hose Co. - allow youths younger than 16 to volunteer with their parents' permission, he said.

Most people who volunteer as firefighters take both basic firefighting and basic emergency-medical technician training, Latimer said. The firefighting course takes 110 hours, and the emergency-medical course takes 141 hours, he said. Both are structured around the college semester schedule, and they are free for volunteers.

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Most firefighters have only basic emergency medical training, but more advanced training is available, Latimer said.

People certified as intermediate emergency medical technicians and paramedics can provide advanced-life support, such as respiratory therapy. They also might be able to intubate their patients or prescribe medications en route to hospitals, Latimer said.

The more advanced-life support classes cost money, and a majority certified at those levels typically work for emergency medical services companies, Latimer said.

No matter what role they want to fill, volunteers will find plenty to do at the companies, Latimer said.

"Certainly, there will always be a need for more volunteers at each of the companies as ... the call loads continue to increase," Latimer said.

To learn more about volunteering, call the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association at 301-714-0812 or visit its Web site at www.wcvfr.org.

Prospective volunteers also may call the companies where they wish to work.

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