Meet Your First Responders

By on February 7, 2018

Scott Barr, EMT, Rothsville Ambulance

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Scott Barr, a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) with Rothsville Volunteer Fire Company Ambulance. Scott has served with the Rothsville Ambulance for seven years and has also been a volunteer in emergency services in the past with Brunnerville Fire Company for 30 years and Warwick Ambulance for four years.

Scott is married to Marlene, and has a daughter (Selena), three rescue dogs, and lives in Warwick Township. Scott also just recently started volunteering with Blain EMS, when he is at his vacation home in Blain, Perry County.

Scott, a Warwick High School graduate, is a warehouse laborer for Johnson and Johnson, where he has been employed for 34 years. He also serves on their emergency response team. Scott enjoys fishing and spending time at his cabin.

Why did you join the ambulance?

I feel it’s a good way to help the people of my community in their time of need. I was urged (for several years) by Beth Runk, a volunteer from Warwick Ambulance, at that time.

What level of training have you completed?

I am trained as an EMT-B.

What is your role in the ambulance company?

I am the current vice president of the company and an EMT crew chief and driver. I also served as the chairman of the committee for the recent purchase of our new ambulance.

What’s your first memory of responding to an ambulance call?

The frustration of the vast amount of other traffic in town and safely proceeding through it.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

I’ll never forget arriving at a scene where a baby had just been born! The midwife carried the baby directly to the ambulance and handed him to us.

What do you find most challenging about EMS?

The abundance of drug overdose calls.

What do you like the most about EMS?

The comradery among the members.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer ambulance service?

The amount of time commitment and training commitment involved. Volunteers often get up during the night to answer calls and still report to their full-time jobs.

Why do you continue to volunteer as an EMT?

I find gratification in serving others and being there to help in their time of need.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the EMS service?

Beth Runk got me involved as a volunteer several years ago and continues to serve along side of me at Rothsville Ambulance Association.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer ambulance service?

The increasing demands to maintain certification as an EMT.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the company as a volunteer?

Go for it, you won’t regret it!

Anything else to add?

If you have interest in being involved with emergency medical services, please reach out to your local ambulance association.


 

Brandon Worthington, Brunnerville Fire. Co.

This week’s Meet Your First Responders profile is about Brandon Worthington, a firefighter with Brunnerville Fire Company. Brandon, 26, has been volunteering with Brunnerville for seven years.

Brandon lives in Warwick Township and is a granduate of Warwick High School. He enjoys hunting and fishing in his spare time.

Why did you join the fire company?

My uncle Rick Fisher Jr. introduced me to it as a young kid. I remember going with him to Lititz Fire Company where he was a firefighter and playing on the apparatus.

What level of training have you completed?

I completed Essentials of Firefighting, and I am also trained as a vehicle rescue technician and an emergency responder.

What is your role in the fire company?

Probationary Suppression Firefighter

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

My very first fire call was responding to a house fire in Lititz. I was excited but nervous at the same time.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

Most recently, the Specialty Bakers fire, that took place this past March.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

Trying to keep up with the training requirements so that we are always prepared for service.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

The brotherhood we share, as we are always there for each other.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

That it’s rewarding knowing you’re helping people that need your help.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

I love being able to help those in need and serving my community.

What is your full-time occupation?

I’m an auto retailer.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service? Mentor?

My uncle, Rick Fisher Jr.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

Not getting enough people interested in helping the community; we need more volunteers.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

It’s rewarding and fun. The fire service will become your second family.

 


Gordy Young, Rothsville Fire Co.

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Gordy Young, a volunteer firefighter with the Rothsville Fire Company. Gordy, 44, has been a volunteer with the fire company for 12 years. Gordy lives in Warwick Township with his wife of 20 years, Suzie, and his daughter, Lizzy, and son, Dylan.

Gordy is a graduate of Warwick High School and Shippensburg University with a BS in Environmental Studies. He is the president/owner of Gem Chem, Inc., an environmental management company, located in Lititz Borough. Gordy is involved with coaching youth sports and has coached football, baseball and basketball for many years. He also enjoys watching Lizzie play field hockey, and going on fishing and hunting trips

Why did you join the fire company?

I joined the RVFC later in life (in my 30s) as many members start as a teenagers or junior fire fighters. My family has been involved with the RVFC for many, many years. My grandfather was fire chief for 30 years, my uncle Sam (current, but soon to be retired fire chief) will have dedicated 30 years at the helm and my oldest brother is our deputy chief. While my family never “pushed” my involvement, they certainly encouraged my involvement. Being so active in sports as a young person and in high school I couldn’t make the time but once I started a family I wanted to show my kids the importance to volunteer and provide back to our community.

What level of training have you completed?

I am a certified Pro Board Fire Fighter II and a Vehicle Rescue Technician.

What is your role in the fire company?

Interior firefighter and I handle publicizing and advertising our fundraising events, in addition to helping at the fundraising events.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

Shortly after joining and getting the necessary training requirements for interior firefighting, we had a fire at the Rothsville school house apartments which fortunately was contained to one apartment, but it could have been much worse if not for the excellent response from the various fire departments.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

About eight years ago, my neighbor called me and said the house across the street was on fire. I told him to call 911 and looked out my front door and saw flames already shooting out from the neighbors’ garage. That was one very memorable call as it hit so close to home and in our small neighborhood.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

The time required to stay up on training requirements in order to perform the tasks required on calls.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

The heartwarming feeling of servicing the community and helping people who certainly need their community support during a tough time.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

The volunteer fire service is struggling locally, and across the state, for membership and retaining members. The decline has been an issue for the Commonwealth for the past 30+ years and continues to be problematic. The alternative is very costly for municipalities, so if you have the ability to serve in any capacity, I would encourage people to get involved.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

I enjoy helping the community, the fellowship of our members and the commitment to the continued success of our community volunteer fire service.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service? Mentor?

My brother Greg (RVFC Deputy Fire Chief).

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The longevity of the volunteer fire service due to lack of new membership and declining financial commitments from the community.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Please consider giving back to your community by volunteering in any capacity you are able and you will find it very rewarding once you get involved.

Anything else to add?

All the departments in the Warwick community are volunteer fire departments. We have financial obligations to keep the electric on, heat our buildings and purchase equipment in order to perform the needed services we are tasked to perform in an emergency. Our municipalities provide some funding, but we rely mostly on donations from our communities we service. So, if you can’t give back by volunteering, please at least help with reducing the financial burden that all our departments endure.

 


Mark Werner, firefighter, Lititz Fire Co.

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Mark Werner, a firefighter/driver with the Lititz Fire Company. Mark, 62, has been a volunteer firefighter for 46 years, including 15 years with Lititz.

Mark lives on Barkay Crossing in Warwick Township with his wife of
38 years, Nancy. Mark and Nancy have three adult children, Jennifer, Jan, and Lauren and they have one granddaughter, Elle  Grace.

Mark is a graduate of Lock Haven University and is employed in sales. He enjoys spending time with family, worshipping with his Lititz Moravian Church family, traveling in his RV, watching baseball, and
target shooting with Nancy.

Why did you join the fire company?

My grandfather, father and brother all were firefighters and I followed along in our family tradition.

What level of training have you completed?

I have completed a large variety of firefighting courses, including command level courses since I was a former chief officer in Montgomery County prior to moving to Lititz.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

A fire in an apartment building with my older brother right behind me, urging me forward.

What is your most memorable incident?

I took part in a rescue of an injured firefighter who had fallen through the roof in a large conflagration. We had to get him up out of the roof and across the roof to our aerial ladder. A short time later, the entire roof caved in to where we had made our trench cut.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

The combined physical and mental aspects of a new challenge on each call.

What do you like the most about firefighting?   

The challenges it presents and the thrill and sense of accomplishment in responding to the needs of those requesting it.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

The reward is immeasurable. Helping people is what it’s all about. There is a great need for volunteers — the more volunteers we have, the easier the workload on all of us.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

It is a reflex action right now, but mainly the close bond of a varied but dedicated group of people I enjoy being with.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company?

Yes, I am happy to have recruited many volunteers throughout my career, including Don Rogers, my neighbor and friend.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

From my earlier years, it was Ed Miller, who was a fire engineer with GSK who gave me new insight into the fire service.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The time commitment. It takes a vast amount of time to get the required training in today’s overactive world.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Come on out and see what this is all about. It might really surprise you. We really would love to have you join our team.

Finally I wish to thank all of my comrades at the Lititz Fire Company. You devote an enormous amount of time and dedication to keep our community safe. You are much appreciated by me and the community-at-large.

 


Daniel Hogan, firefighter, Rothsville Fire Co.

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Firefighter Daniel Hogan of the Rothsville Fire Company. Daniel, 39, has been a volunteer with the fire company for nearly two years and a career firefighter for 22 years. Daniel lives in Warwick Township with his wife Helen, and his two children, daughter Jadyn and son Hunter. Daniel is a 1997 graduate of Warwick High School and is employed as a career firefighter in York County, with York Rescue Company 69. He enjoys hunting, fishing, camping and working out in his spare time.

Why did you join the fire company?

“I enjoy responding to assist those who are quite possibly having the worst day of their lives when they dial 9-1-1. There is nothing like the satisfaction that you experience when you help someone, who in those moments, is looking for someone to step up and make a difference in their day and lives.”

What level of training have you completed?

“I hold a Masters in Science in Emergency Services Management from Columbia Southern University, as well as nationally recognized fire certifications such as Firefighter 2, Fire Officer 3, Fire Instructor 3, Fire Inspector 3, Hazardous Materials Technician, Hazardous Materials Incident Commander, Fire Dept. Health and Safety Officer and rescue technician certifications.”

What is your role in the fire company?

“I am a suppression-level firefighter and assist with fire company training. My friend, Jon Lamb, is a captain with the fire company and once I moved to Warwick Township, he recruited me to join him at the fire company.”

What is your most memorable incident?

“I have been fortunate to respond to and be involved in many emergency responses over the course of my career and time served as a volunteer. The most recent notable call that I was directly part of would be the cave rescue in southern Lancaster County. My career department, York Rescue 69, was requested as part of the York County Advanced Technical Rescue Team, late into the incident. We brought forth a specialized level of training, unique skills and resources that led to the rescue of the young man in under 75 minutes after our arrival.”

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

“Cries for help ring out regardless of the day of the week or the hour of the day. Time spent helping others can be challenging when you long to be home spending time with family.”

What do you like the most about firefighting?

“The satisfaction gained when you make a significant difference in someone’s day when you answer their cries for help.”

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

“Many fire departments, like Rothsville Fire Company, dedicate hundreds of hours annually in training and emergency responses. Very few people are also aware of the additional time volunteered by these men and women annually to raise funds to purchase necessary equipment. Without their efforts, fire departments may not have the resources necessary to intervene at an emergency scene.”

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

“If not me, then who will answer the call? Send me, I will go.”

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

“I’ve met many incredible firefighters in my career. Each one has influenced me in different ways. I’ve always enjoyed meeting firefighters that challenge guys to think outside the box and creatively think of solutions to problems anticipated on the fireground.”

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service? 

“Without public support for training and private donations, the Pennsylvania fire service will continue to suffer shortages in membership, training and retention of volunteers.”

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

“Stop by the fire house today. Sit down and share a conversation at any fire house table. These men and women will further explain why this truly is the best calling in the world.”


Keith Rothermel, Deputy Fire Chief, Brickerville Fire Company

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Keith Rothermel, Deputy Fire Chief of the Brickerville Fire Company. Keith, 50, has been a volunteer with the fire company for 20 years. He also currently serves as a trustee, and has previously served as the safety officer, lieutenant, captain, assistant fire chief and president. Keith lives in Elizabeth Township with his wife Lisa, who is a kindergarten teacher at John Beck Elementary School. Keith and Lisa have two daughters; Megan, who is 23 and in her third year of law school at Duquesne in Pittsburgh, and Meredith, who is 19 and lives in Spain where she works as an au pair.

Keith graduated from Lebanon High School, and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resources and Psychology from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and a Master of Management Degree from Penn State University. He is the director of human resources at Quality Custom Cabinetry, Inc. in New Holland. Keith and his wife have served in various ministries at Victory Church and currently volunteer in the church nursery, coffee bar and help with the grade five and six program. He also plays over-30 soccer and enjoys spending time outside with his family.

Why did you join the fire company?

We had lived out of the area for the first few years of marriage. We had the opportunity to move to Brickerville to be near family and when we were moving into our new home, we received the Brickerville Fire Company solicitation letter. The letter ended by saying if you were interested in volunteering, come to the station. I was new to the area and did not know many people so I thought I would attend and see if it would be a good fit for me.

What level of training  have you completed?

I enjoy taking classes and learning new things, so I have taken many classes over 20 years and continue to do so. I am nationally-certified as a Firefighter 2, EMT-B, Vehicle Rescue Technician, and completed many other classes such as water rescue, rope rescue and wildland firefighting.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

We were doing Monday night training and were dispatched for a vehicle accident. It turned out to be a minor accident and there was not much for us to do. Our deputy chief told me to get a handlight, meaning a flashlight. I misunderstood and thought he said a handline (the pre-connected hose on the engine). I had several sections of hose pulled off and then learned he only wanted a handlight. I think I was a bit too excited at my first call.

What is your most memorable incident?

There have been several, some with a happy ending and some very sad calls. One that stands out was a water rescue we participated in when we rescued occupants stranded in floodwaters on Route 322.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

The amount of time spent training can be challenging. As a training officer, I like to remind our firefighters, would they go to a physician (or attorney, mechanic, electrician, any profession) who had completed their required training 20 years ago and then never took another class? The same is true for us; we need to continue to learn and practice. But we also need to keep our lives in balance with fire company training, family, jobs, and all of the other things in life.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

It is a great way for me to put my Christian faith into practice by serving my community. We are called to help when people are having one of the worst times in their lives. While all volunteer activities are important, our calling is truly a matter of life and death. When our help is needed, people expect us to show up right away and help them. It’s quite the commitment and I’m proud to be able to do this.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

very volunteer fire station can use any volunteer help. We can use help in the business side, in fundraising, in maintaining the buildings, and in emergency response. We are a rural department with a few, small businesses in our community. While our fund drive participation rate is good, we still have to do fundraising like weekly bingo and chicken bar-b-que. If community members helped with non-emergency tasks, it would give the responders more time to focus on the emergency response.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

I’m very committed to seeing our organization succeed and remain viable. Also, when my neighbors call 911, I want to be able to respond and help where needed.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company?

There were two boys that lived in our neighborhood that joined our company as junior firefighters over ten years ago. One is no longer active, but the other got married, moved to Lititz and is an active firefighter with the Lititz Fire Company.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

There have been many influencers over my 20 years and I have made friends with people at numerous stations. I’d like to thank Nevin May (my first deputy chief), who offered me good advice when I joined and he continues to offers me guidance as I serve as deputy chief.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The dwindling number of volunteers is one of my biggest concerns. Our day-time firefighter numbers are becoming especially low. I try to recruit people and I typically hear, “I wish I could, but I don’t have time.” You will not find a first responder that hasn’t experienced time constraints at some point, but we still choose to serve when we are able to.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Visit your local station and speak to someone about helping in any way you can.


Lisa Latsha, paramedic

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Lisa Latsha, a paramedic with Northwest EMS. Lisa can be seen serving with Northwest EMS in the Brickerville and Manheim areas.

Lisa, 38, has been employed by Northwest EMS for four years, and has been involved in emergency medical services for over 20 years. Lisa lives in East Petersburg with her four children: Evan, Haley, Victoria and Nathaniel; and two dogs and two cats.

Lisa is a graduate of Penn Manor High School and enjoys reading and making crafts in her spare time. She also works part-time at Country Table Restaurant in Mount Joy.

Why did you choose a career in EMS?

I became an EMT to follow in the footsteps of my aunt and uncle (Doris and Fred Warfel) who ran the Conestoga Ambulance for a long time. Becoming a paramedic gave me the opportunity to further help people in their time of need.

What’s your first memory of responding to a call?

I was worried if I was going to remember what to do or if I would freeze, but I did well.

What is your most memorable incident?

It was a vehicle accident involving the daughter of a local fire chief. Seeing how critical she was at the accident scene and then getting to see her make a full recovery is very satisfying.

What do you find most challenging about emergency medical services?

Dealing with the street drugs that are having such a negative effect on people, and incidents involving children.

What do you like the most about EMS?

Every day is different and every call is different.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the EMS field?

My daughter has taken a huge interest in EMS.

Who has had the biggest influence on your EMS career?

My aunt and uncle, Doris and Fred Warfel, taught me to be the best provider than I can be, and to do the best that I can for my patients.

What is your biggest concern about the future of EMS?

The lack of insurance reimbursements is putting a strain on the EMS companies’ budgets and their ability to keep good providers and maintain adequate equipment.

What do you wish people knew about EMS?

EMS providers are there to help you in your time of need. Each one of them have put in hundreds of hours of training in order to be prepared to serve you and the community.

What advice do you have for someone who is considering a career in EMS?

It’s a great job with many highs, but also many lows.


Bob Shreiner, Rothsville Fire Company

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Bob Shreiner, president of the Rothsville Fire Company. Bob, 63, has been a volunteer with the fire company for 50 years. Bob lives in Warwick Township with his wife, Donna, and their two dogs.

Bob is a 1974 graduate of Warwick High School and is employed in the public works department for Warwick Township. Bob is a former polo player and is currently the president of the Lancaster Polo Club. He also enjoys hunting.

Why did you join the fire company?

When I was in school, Rothsville Fire Chief Claude Young Sr. used to come into the school to present fire prevention programs. I became really interested in serving. I was also close friends with many guys whose dads were in the fire company.

What level of training have you completed?

I hold national certification as a Firefighter 1.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

The night I was scheduled to be voted in as a member of the fire company, there was a chimney fire on Ballstown Road before the meeting and the assistant fire chief told me to get on the fire truck and go with, even though I wasn’t voted in yet.

What is your most memorable incident?

I have responded to many memorable incidents through the years, but one that remains in my memory was a car that crashed into a house, causing a fire and a fatality.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

The training requirements are much more demanding than they were when I joined. It was much simpler 50 years ago.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

I truly enjoy serving my community and helping those in need. The lifelong friends that I have made in this career has really been special to me.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

The volunteer fire service is often mistaken for being paid workers. Even though we are volunteers, we are still professional in our service to our community through our dedication with training and response to emergencies.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

There is a slow decline in the number of volunteers, so I will continue to serve as long as I am physically able to do so.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

Past Fire Chief Claude Young Sr. was instrumental in getting me excited to serve in the fire company and he was an outstanding leader.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The two biggest issues facing the volunteer fire service — funding and staffing. We need people to support our fund drive and fund raisers and we need those who are willing and capable to volunteer to serve.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Please consider serving your community. It is a rewarding career and you’ll be glad to did it.


Stephen Martin, Brunnerville Fire Co.

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Lieutenant Stephen Martin of the Brunnerville Fire Company. Stephen, 23, has been a volunteer with the fire company for nine years and also serves as a trustee. Stephen is a resident of Elizabeth Township.

Stephen is a homeschool graduate through Mason Dixon. He is employed full-time as an auto repair technician. He is very involved in his church, Lebanon Valley Bible Church, and enjoys target shooting with his friends.

Why did you join the fire company?

I joined the fire company to serve my community and to gain valuable life experience. Also, my family has always been involved in the fire service, specifically my father, Walter, and my two older brothers, Curvin and Joshua (my younger brother Seth has also joined the fire company too).

What level of training have you completed?

I am certified as a Pro Board Firefighter II and I am also a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). I also am certified as a Vehicle Rescue Technician, an NFPA 1006 Technical Rescuer and a Special Response and Recovery Diver.

What is your first memory of responding to a fire call?

It was an automatic fire alarm at John Beck Elementary School, where we found a malfunctioning HVAC system.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

My most notable call was a vehicle accident that was so severe that the engine was dislodged from the vehicle and landed several feet away. The best part of the call was that the patient survived the accident.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

The amount of time that is required to stay proficient at the skills required to do the job.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

The brotherhood among us and the ability to help people on their worst days.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

That we are always in need of volunteers. Also, we rely on the donations from the residents and businesses in our fire district; there is no fire tax to fund us.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

It’s my way of serving my community.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

My father, Walter, the deputy fire chief for Brunnerville Fire Company.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The ever-rising cost of equipment and dwindling number of volunteers.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Stop by your local fire station on a training night to meet the firefighters, watch what they are doing and ask questions. Make sure you take an application with you!

Lastly: There’s something unexplainable about being a volunteer firefighter. We don’t get paid, and we spend many hours on calls and training, but it’s very rewarding and I wouldn’t trade being a volunteer firefighter for anything!

 


This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Kevin Cox Jr., full-time emergency medical technician (EMT) with Warwick Community Ambulance Association.

Kevin, 27, has been an EMT for 10 years. Kevin lives in Mount Joy with his wife, Kaitlyn, and their daughter, Rylie, and son, Trevor.

Kevin is a graduate of Elizabethtown Area High School. Kevin is also a volunteer firefighter with the Rheems Fire Company. He enjoys spending time with his family, including going camping, especially at their favorite place, Knoebels.

Why did you become an EMT?

I was pretty much born into this. My grandfather was the fire chief of Silver Spring Fire Company in West Hempfield Township, (now known as West Hempfield Fire/Rescue) and my father and mother were both involved in the fire service. Both of my parents were also paramedics. I have been going to station ever since.

When I was younger I would love to stay home “sick” from school because my mother would have to take me to work with her. At that time, she was the boss of Willow Street EMS (now SVEMS) and they were based out of the fire company. I always had fun there hanging out with the EMS crew and the firefighters. When I was 14, I ran my first EMS call with my dad who was Medic 700 at the time. I have loved this job ever since.

What’s your first memory of responding to an emergency call?

When I was 14, I did a ride along with my father. He was the supervisor at SVEMS at the time. We responded to a breathing problems call. The gentleman was fine, but it was eye opening to see my dad “in action,” and I realized I wanted to be just like him.

What is your most memorable incident?

On March 29, 2017 my partner, Dave Patterson, and I responded to a pregnancy call and delivered a healthy baby boy in the back of the Warwick ambulance.

What do you find most challenging about emergency medical services?

Putting all the pieces of the puzzle together on calls when you begin with no clue what is wrong.

What do you like the most about EMS?

Helping people; I like to interact with the public. Whether it is at an event here in town or just talking to someone at Turkey Hill, you can find out a lot about someone by just having a quick conversation.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the EMS service?

I try to recruit anyone I can. This isn’t a job that is going to have robots take over. There will always be need for a helping human hand.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in EMS?

I have a couple: I have to thank my parents for getting me involved in EMS. One of the best paramedics I know David “DJ” Johnson, who has taught me a lot. Paramedic Erle Smith would sit down and help explain things to me when I was going to EMT class. Honestly there are so many other people I owe for the success I’ve had in this career, but it’s hard to name all of them.

What is your biggest concern about the future of emergency medical services?

I just hope that fire, police, and EMS continue to be like a family. Here in Lititz we are blessed to have the relationship we do with all first responders. We all work together very well and there are not many hiccups during incidents here. I personally consider them all to be my friends.

What would you say to someone who is considering a career as an EMT?

Keep a level head about you, train as much as you can and never stop learning — there is always going to be something you don’t know. You have to take it seriously. The bad calls are few and far between but we do get them, and when you do respond to one, talk to people. This job will make or break you.

What do you wish other people knew about EMS?

That we are people too; we have feelings even if we don’t show it. We’re not there to give you a bad night, we’re there to help.

 


Amanda Martin, Brunnerville Fire Co.

This week’s Meet Your First Responder profile is about Amanda Martin, secretary of the Brunnerville Fire Company. Amanda, 30, has been a volunteer with the fire company for four years and lives in Warwick Township with her husband, Curvin, and their two daughters, Sophia and Olivia.

Amanda is a graduate of Manheim Central High School, Lebanon Valley College and is currently enrolled in graduate school at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences. In addition to being a wife and mother, she works part-time as an administrative assistant at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. Amanda also serves as the treasurer and board member of the Old Zion German Reformed Church historic preservation board.

Why did you join the fire company?

My husband, Curvin, is a Lieutenant in the fire company and he encouraged me to join to assist with administrative duties.

What is your role in the fire company?

I serve as the fire company secretary, as the rental hall coordinator, and as a volunteer with the fundraising dinners.

What do you wish people knew about the volunteer fire service? 

There are numerous non-firefighting volunteer options that need to be filled. It’s tough for the firefighters to find time to respond to fire calls, train, raise funds and serve in administrative roles. More people are needed to help.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service? 

The younger generations lack involvement in their communities. It’s not only about being a firefighter but finding a way to serve to your ability.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

There is always something that someone can do to contribute. If you desire to serve, you will find time to do it. You’ll feel a great sense of satisfaction in serving!


Don Rogers, Lititz Fire Co.

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Firefighter Don Rogers of the Lititz Fire Company. Don, 53, has been a volunteer with the fire company for six years and serves as a suppression-level firefighter.

Don has lived in Warwick Township for 14 years, along with his wife, Krista; daughter, Annaliese; son, Donnie; and their Weimaraner dog.

Don is originally from Maryland, a graduate of the University of Maryland and is employed as a manufacture representative in the dental industry. Don helps to coach his son’s lacrosse team, as well as volunteering as the assistant scoutmaster in his son’s Boy Scout Troop. He also enjoys camping and hunting.

Why did you join the fire company?

As with many of those in the community, we have all been positively affected by our local fire department and/or emergency responders, whether directly or indirectly. Personally, I was rescued from an automobile accident and flown by helicopter for treatment. After several surgeries and a year of rehabilitation, my life got back to some level of normalcy. It was then that I found a need to give back to my community. My neighbor Mark Werner, a firefighter with Lititz Fire Company, introduced me to the fire service as he has served for many years. I felt compelled to pay forward to those that helped me in my time of need. Those that I serve with are my heroes and inspiration.

What level of training have you completed?

I am certified as a Pro Board Firefighter II and I am also Technical Rescue qualified.

What is your most memorable incident?

It was while I was at a two-alarm fire at a furniture plant. I watched in amazement of those that I serve with, volunteering their time, their family’s time and their career time, to help those in their greatest need. It was inspiring to me.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

My most gratifying moment was to find the wedding ring of someone following an automobile accident. I know how much my marriage and my wedding ring means to my wife and myself.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

Finding enough time to give, while earning a living and being involved with my family.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

I’m blessed to be able to help people.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

It is an honorable way to serve your community and it gives you a sense of connection to the place you live in.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

Instead of asking someone else to make a difference, I chose to make a difference for my children.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company? If yes, who?

Yes, I recruited a Junior Firefighter.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

My friend and fellow firefighter John Shoultz.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

Political barriers of entry within the industry itself. Additionally, that not enough people lend support to their local fire department. Whether with time, talents or financially.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Don’t consider; make a decision to join. It is an amazing way to make a difference in your community.


 

Doug Stoner, driver

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Doug Stoner, a driver with the Brunnerville, Lititz, and Brickerville fire companies.

Doug, 69, has been a volunteer firefighter for 36 years, including service also at Millersville and Lafayette fire companies. Doug lives in Warwick Township with his wife, Diane Brandt. Doug has a daughter, Amy, who is married to Geoff Cohick, has two children Graham and Charlotte, and lives in Millersville; and a son, Richard, who is married to Julia and lives in San Jose, Calif. Between Diane and Doug, they have a total of five children and seven grandchildren.

Doug is a retired technology manager from a Conestoga Valley School District and currently owns a commercial and residential property inspection business. He is also a part time seasonal delivery driver for the nursery at Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill in Lititz. Doug enjoys hunting, fishing, biking, hiking, and doing anything outdoors. He also like to watercolor.

Where did you graduate from?

I graduated from Penn Manor High School and then from Millersville University with a B.S. and MEd in industrial arts education.

Why did you join the fire company?

My father and my uncles all served in the military, mostly in World War II. I had an uncle who was killed in the Korean War when I was around five. I was in college during Vietnam and missed the draft, so I wanted to provide some service to my community and chose to do it through the volunteer fire service. I had a former student, Dave Wiker, who was active at the Millersville Fire Company that kept pestering me to join and finally in 1982, I joined Millersville Fire Company.

What level of training have you completed?

I can’t count the number of training classes and activities I have been through. I have had training as an interior firefighter, emergency driver and pump operator. Of course, there is CPR, AED, advanced first aid, radioactive monitoring, hazardous materials, flammable liquids, confined space, ropes and riggings, truck company operations, vehicle rescue… and the list goes on and on.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

The first one I can remember was a barn fire in Manor Township. I remember jumping off the tail board (you could ride the tail board, the back step of the fire engine, back in the day) of the engine with a hose-line and falling flat on my face. I got up and proceeded to get to the side of the barn and, of course, had no water and watched the steam coming off my hip boots until the water finally came.

What is your most memorable incident?

The one in March at Specialty Bakery was certainly notable. In 36 years, I have been to so many calls and seen so many things that many of the ones you remember are notable. Unfortunately, the ones that may be the most notable are often the bad vehicle accidents and medical assists that many times you would prefer not to remember.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

The variety of calls since every call is different, and you can never assume that even the simplest of calls can be treated as normal.

What do you like the most about firefighting? 

The challenges, the brotherhood of other firefighters and being able to say that I am serving my community.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

It’s fun to learn new things all the time. The other firefighters and volunteers who support us make up a community that you can be proud to be a part of. Don’t want to forget the free food sometimes at big calls and of course, the blue t-shirts!

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter? 

I just love it and the young guys help keep me feeling young.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company?

Yes, I was a mentor in a high school fire club at Conestoga Valley while employed there and the group of students that participated were trained by certified PA fire instructors. When I ran calls with Lafayette Fire Company I would often see those students responding to calls, and still to this day, I encounter some of them at calls we might both be at.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

There were two mentors, both from Millersville Fire Company. Jim Eshleman was my first fire chief, and after getting my butt chewed out several times, I learned to respect him and learned a lot from Jim, who served for more than 30 years as the fire chief. His son, Keith, is now the fire chief and has been for many years and has been a great friend and mentor.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

It has always been the lack of daytime firefighters and retaining good people. There are a lot of paid positions out of the area and it seems we lose quite a few to those paid spots. Some continue to run locally but some move out of the area and are no longer available here.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Just do it! You will find if it fits you and you really get involved, you’ll be hooked just like me, and there is no greater feeling of accomplishment then being a volunteer, either with the fire service or some other volunteer group. I am going to tell you that there are lots of training opportunities, most of which are free, and even though the courses are challenging, you’ll become part of a community of great people.

Anything else to add?

The volunteer fire service is always looking for good men and women to serve. Young people can also join many companies as junior firefighters, and when they turn 18 can become active firefighters. If you have just moved into the Warwick/Lititz area, welcome and remember, we are a volunteer service; we don’t get any monetary pay, but the satisfaction of the job is quite rewarding.

PS: Don’t forget the blue t-shirts!


Justin Auker, Brunnerville Fire Company

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Justin Auker, captain of the Brunnerville Fire Company. Justin, 28, who also volunteers with Lititz Fire Company, has been a volunteer firefighter for 13 years. Justin lives in Warwick Township with his fiancée,
Brittany Clements, and his son, Greyson.

Justin is a graduate of Warwick High School and is employed full-time as a firefighter in the City of Reading.

Why did you join the fire company?

I received a flyer about the Junior Firefighter Program in the mail when I was 14 and living in Brickerville. After a year of convincing my mom to allow me to apply, she finally did; I have been doing it ever since. I am a first-generation firefighter in my family.

What level of training have you completed?

I am trained to nationally-certified Firefighter 2 level and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

We were alerted for a call while I was at work one evening back when I first became a member at Brunnerville. I left work, thinking it was some sort of serious call, only to find out it was some ducks in a storm drain. This was also my first call with Brunnerville.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

Knowing that you are making a difference in somebody’s life on what could be their worst day.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

I wish more people knew how much time and effort their volunteers put in to making sure they provide the best service they can to the community. All of the training requirements alone take hundreds of hours to complete, on top of leaving their families and jobs whenever a call comes in.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

I have had too many mentors throughout my fire service career to list, however the support I get from my family has been a huge influence in why I continue to volunteer.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

A lack of volunteers.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Although time-consuming, it will probably be one of the best decisions you ever make. You will make some life-long friends and be doing something that you and your family can be proud of.

 


Aaron Hoover, Rothsville Fire Co.

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Aaron Hoover, assistant fire chief of the Rothsville Fire Company.

Aaron, 45, has been a volunteer with the fire company for 28 years. Aaron lives in Warwick Township with his wife, Erla, and four
children: Kirsten, Austin, Kara, and Drew.

Aaron is a graduate of Middle Creek Parochial School and is a self-employed farmer. In his free time, Aaron has a great passion for
hunting with friends and family

Why did you join the fire company?

When I was younger, I worked on my dad’s farm and thought being in the fire company would be a great way to get away and add some excitement in my life. I never anticipated being here 28 years later.

What level of training have you completed?

I hold national certification as a Firefighter 2 and also as an EMT, in addition to numerous other training classes that I have completed.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

The first call that I responded to was a vehicle accident in which the car knocked over a fire hydrant.

What is your most memorable incident?

There have been many memorable incidents that I have responded to in my career, but the one that has affected me the most was a house fire in which my crew found a deceased child, who was the same age as my children at the time.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

Trying to find the right balance of running a business and still responding to most fire calls and participating in all the training. I owe a lot to my wife, who picks up the slack when I am gone.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

Like I mentioned earlier, I never dreamed I would be here 28 years. One of the reasons is that l like being able to make a difference in the community. However, perhaps the biggest benefit is the lifelong friends I have made, not only at our fire company, but in the neighboring companies as well. A lot of people probably think when they hear of the brotherhood of firefighters that it’s a cliché, but it’s not.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

I think a lot of people would be surprised by the high level of training and skills of their local firefighters.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

As long as I can make a difference, I will continue to serve.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company?

Yes, I was able to recruit my friend Elvin Zimmerman, who is a captain in our fire company, and my brother, James Hoover, who serves as the president of the Rothsville Fire Company ambulance. More recently, my son, Austin, joined as a junior firefighter.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

Past Fire Chief Claude Young Sr. He was always willing to share his knowledge with the younger members.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

That there will be a day when a call for help is made and there isn’t enough staffing to respond.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

You might be surprised how easy it is to get involved at various levels — and who knows, you might also be here 28 years later!

 


Mike Steffy, Brunnerville Fire Co.

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Mike Steffy, a current driver and a past deputy chief of the Brunnerville Fire Company.

Mike, 60, has been a volunteer with the fire company for 31 years. He now lives in Lititz Borough with his wife Kathy, after residing in Warwick Township for many years. Mike also has two daughters: Whitney, married to Dillon Sickler, and Brooke, married to Bryce Billow; and one grandchild, Wyatt, son of Whitney and Dillon.

Mike is a graduate of Warwick High School and is employed in auto sales with John Sauder Chevrolet. His hobbies include golfing, riding his Harley, and spending time with his family.

Why did you join the fire company? The first day we lived in Brunnerville, there was a very bad wind storm (some even believe it was a tornado). I saw first-hand what the fire company did and I said to myself, I must be a part of that.

What level of training have you completed? I have completed basic and advanced fire suppression classes, pump training, and driver training courses.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call? The large fire at the former Stiffel Freeman safe building in Lititz Borough in the late 1980s.

What is your most memorable incident? Responding to a vehicle accident with two people trapped who needed to be flown by helicopter to the hospital.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting? Training and remembering that every call is different.

What do you like the most about firefighting? Helping people in need and, even if it’s very small, making a difference in someone’s bad day.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service? We are constantly on-call, 24/7.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter? As long as I can make a difference, I will continue to serve.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company? If yes, who? A friend, Denny Shaub.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service? Fire Chief Lynn Mearig and his brother, Jeff. Both have been volunteering their entire lives.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service? The demands of training and the time it takes.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer? Do it! It will make you feel very good about yourself.

Lastly: Firefighting is one of the proudest things I have done in my life.

 


Ryan Balmer, Lititz Fire Co.

This week’s Meet Your First Responders profile is about Lititz Fire Company Firefighter Ryan Balmer. Ryan, 22, is the son of Russell and Kathy Balmer, and has been a volunteer firefighter for three years. He is a resident of Lititz Borough. A home-schooled graduate, Ryan is employed by Bomberger’s Store in online sales. In addition to volunteering at the fire company, Ryan enjoys playing video games, hunting, playing pick-up basketball, going to the gym and golfing.

Role in the Lititz Fire Company: I am a suppression level firefighter.

Training levels attained: I am certified to the level of nationally recognized Pro-Board Firefighter 1, and I have state certification as a vehicle rescue technician.

Why did you join the fire company? I wanted to become a police officer, so as I prepared to try to become a police officer, I met with Lititz Borough Police Officer Jevon Miller. He encouraged me to join the fire company as a great way to get experience as a first responder. He explained to me how he used to be a firefighter, and how that really helped a lot with his career as a police officer.

First call? My first call was when I was a probationary member. I was able to ride the ladder truck to an investigation call. The house had light smoke in it as a result of burned food. As I stood outside and watched the other firefighters handle the call, I realized that I couldn’t wait to get trained so that I could join them.

Most notable incident? My most notable call was the first fire I responded to as a qualified suppression level firefighter. I was on the nozzle of the hose line for a basement fire. I pulled the hose line, laid it out, and will never forget how surreal it felt. I was backed up by my officer and we both went down the outside steps to the basement and put the fire out. It was pretty straightforward and simple, but it was exactly what I had trained to be ready to do.

Biggest challenge about firefighting? The variety of the calls. Every call presents different challenges and you never quite know what you will find.

What do you like most about firefighting? I really like being a part of a team that is dedicated to helping others. I really enjoy learning from the other guys at the fire company, as well as working with them on different projects around the station.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service? Lieutenant John Shoultz and Deputy Chief Mike Smith, both with many years of service, have given me so much advice based on their experiences, which has helped me grow as a firefighter.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service? That while it’s a volunteer role, it’s still requires a great deal of commitment.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter? I love doing it and everything about it. I can’t even imagine not doing it now.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service? My concern is making sure we continue to have enough people volunteering to serve.

What advice do you have for someone considering serving as a volunteer firefighter? You have to be committed to serving. It can be hard work and long hours; you’ll miss sleep and family events, but you need to be dedicated.

One last comment: My parents, Russell and Kathy, adopted me as a baby. They raised me in Lititz where they have lived for the majority of their lives. They raised me in a church where I still attend. I owe a lot to my parents. I’m very thankful for all they have done for me. I’m very proud and blessed to have them as my parents.


John Shoultz, Lititz Fire Co.

This week’s Meet Your First Responder profile is about Lititz Fire Company’s lieutenant, John Shoultz. John, 44, has been a volunteer firefighter for 25 years. He is a resident of Warwick Township, married to Michelle, has one daughter, Maegan, and a son, Brett.

A graduate of Warwick High School, John is employed as a mechanic at Bomberger’s Store. In addition to spending time with family and volunteering at the fire company, John enjoys hunting with his friends and family and fishing in Maryland.

Role in the Lititz Fire Company:

As a lieutenant, I help train other members of the fire company with firefighting skills and driver training.

Training levels attained:

I am certified to the level of Pro-Board Firefighter 2, and I have state certification as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and vehicle rescue technician.

Why did you join the fire company?

When I was growing up, my next door neighbor had a fire in his living room and I watched the firefighters put the fire out. After that, I was hooked on the fire service.

Most notable incident?

It was a house fire on Father’s Day in 2012, which was the first fire that my son Brett and I fought together, since he had just recently completed all of his firefighter training to be an interior firefighter.

Biggest challenge about firefighting?

The ever-changing technology of new vehicles and the challenges they pose for firefighters.

What do you like most about firefighting?

I appreciate the satisfaction you get when you see that we helped someone who was having a bad day, in their time of need.

Have you been able to recruit others to volunteer?

I am especially proud that my son Brett decided to become a volunteer firefighter also.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

My wife Michelle, my son Brett, and my dad John have all been very big supporters of my career in the fire service.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

My concern is what will happen if people don’t choose to volunteer in the future.

What advice do you have for someone considering serving as a volunteer firefighter?

Joining the fire company is one of the best ways to help the people in our community, and it is also a great way to meet new people, get really good training, and make some great memories.


Scott Brutout, Brickerville Fire Company

This week’s Meet the First Responder profile is about Brickerville Fire Company volunteer firefighter Scott “ScottyB” Brutout. Scott, 41, has been a volunteer firefighter with Brickerville Fire Company for four years. He is a resident of Elizabeth Township, is married to Stefanie, and has two daughters, Natalie and Kerri, both students at John Beck Elementary School.

A graduate of Warwick High School, Scott attended Lebanon Valley College and is now employed as a project estimator and design studio manager at Tait Towers, in the Lititz office. Scott enjoys camping, beach trips with his family, music and spending time outdoors.

Role in the Brickerville Fire Company:

I am a firefighter and a second line fire police officer. I served as the first vice-president last year.

Why did you join the fire company?

I joined because I had a desire to contribute to my community. I grew up participating in Boy Scouts, was a peer mentor during high school, and was always drawn to charitable events in the community. My friend’s father, and longtime Brickerville firefighter, Bill Estes, took me to my first monthly meeting to have me introduced.

First Memory of Responding to a Fire Call:

The first fire call that I responded to was an outbuilding fire. I was very anxious to rush into action and prove myself; the fire chief at that time (Jeff Strauss) pulled me aside and told me “Walk — don’t’ run. Pay attention to your surroundings. Ask and observe what is needed and then act calmly and safely.” That critique really resonated with me and shaped my training and performance moving forward. It’s not the rush to the fight that counts; it’s how the fight is executed that measures success.

Most notable incident:

The 501 Motel fire was my first large incident, not necessarily because of the size of the fire, but because of the number of people it affected. There is a human element to every emergency we respond to, and this one impacted me significantly because of the number of families that had been displaced; all of them permanently.

Biggest challenge about firefighting:

Sometimes, getting yourself in the right frame of mind is a struggle. You might be tired, or need to leave some important family function. Maybe you had a trying day at work or just need to decompress. You must learn to push those life realities aside and focus on the task at hand. A wise instructor once told me to always remember you are possibly responding to someone’s worst day of their life; you need to embrace that mindset if you are going to be an effective resource.

What do you like most about firefighting?

I find it gives me a sense of purpose and humility. Also, the camaraderie with fellow first responders (not just firefighters, but also those in EMS and law enforcement). Being faced with a common challenge brings out the best in people. Knowing that we are all there to help, whatever the situation, provides a gratifying sense of accomplishment and solidarity.

What others should know about firefighting:

We don’t want to be heroes. We are normal men and women from many diverse backgrounds who just want to help the best way that we can. We aren’t invincible, and we do experience fear. It’s that fear that keeps us on our toes and allows us to make safe decisions for the public, ourselves, and other first responders.

Why do you continue to serve?

To me, it was a big step to join. It was what I would describe as way outside of my comfort zone. However, once I joined, began training, and got to know people in our fire company and neighboring companies, I really enjoyed it. Plus, there is an unexplainable sense of satisfaction knowing that you are helping others in their time of need.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

Former Brickerville Fire Company Deputy Fire Chief Matt Sherk served as a very supportive mentor as soon as I joined. Our chief, Jeff Strauss has been very encouraging as I continue in this career, and Assistant Fire Chief Keith Rothermel is always pushing me to explore new training opportunities. That said, the entire organization is very supportive and encouraging, sharing both knowledge and compassion all around. Stefanie has been my biggest supporter, not only working around the scheduled trainings, but also the unscheduled emergency responses.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

Recruitment and retention of the volunteers. It’s important to understand, and many people don’t volunteer, that members are needed to serve in so many different disciplines. There are many distinct roles that need to be filled to operate a volunteer fire company.

What advice do you have for someone considering serving as a volunteer firefighter?

They should understand that the fire company will only ask of you what you can give. There is a significant amount of training, challenging work, and dedication, but at the end of the day, family always comes first. Don’t be afraid to take that first step and give firefighting a try — it is a very rewarding experience.

Final points:

I only regret that started this journey 20 years too late!


David Brodar, Lititz Fire Company

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is on Lititz Fire Company volunteer firefighter David Brodar.

David, 65, lives in Warwick Township and has been a volunteer firefighter for seven years, including the past two years with Lititz Fire Company. David has also volunteered with Black Rock Fire Company in Montgomery County.

David has been married to Meldine, a retired school teacher, for 42 years, and they have two sons, ages 38 and 39. He is a graduate of Gateway High School in Monroeville, has a bachelor’s degree from IUP and has masters’ degrees from Wayne State University and Eastern College. He is retired from Amtrak. David’s hobbies include reading, bicycling, shooting sporting clays, and trap shooting.

Why did you join the fire company?

I joined Lititz Fire Company after meeting Firefighter Matt Stevenson. Since I had belonged to a volunteer fire company before moving here, I wanted to continue to serve the community.

What is your role in the fire company?

I serve as the on-scene photographer and on the support services team.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

Responding to the fire station for fire calls in a timely manner from my home in southern Warwick Township.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

The camaraderie among the firefighters.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

There is a place for everyone who wants to join the fire service.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

Because we are beginning to find new ways for support personnel to help.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

Bill Kasper from the Black Rock Fire Company.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

Recruitment and retention of volunteers.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

If you are willing to put forth the necessary effort, it is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

 


Jeff Garner, Brunnerville Fire Company

This week’s Meet Your First Responder profile is about Brunnerville Fire Company’s Assistant Fire Chief, Jeff Garner.Jeff, 52, has been a volunteer firefighter with Brunnerville Fire Company for the past 24 years. He is a resident of Warwick Township, married to Mary Kay, and has one daughter, Samantha Baldwin. He also has two cats and a dog.

A graduate of Warwick High School, Jeff is employed as the operations manager at Lancaster Countywide Communications. In addition to spending time with family and volunteering at the fire company, Jeff enjoys golfing and running

Role in the Brunnerville Fire Company

In addition to serving as the assistant fire chief, Jeff is the also the president of the fire company.

Why did you join the fire company?

I was connected to the fire company by a co-worker who knew the assistant chief at the time, Jim Bowersox. I also served with the Warwick Community Ambulance for several years.

First memory of responding to a fire call

My first memory was actually getting to ride on the fire engine, since I did not live close to the fire station, and rarely got to ride on the fire engine.

Most notable incident

The first active fire that I responded to was a late-night house fire on Brunnerville Road that lasted until the early hours of the morning.

Biggest challenge about firefighting

Staffing concerns with volunteers, and the struggle to keep up with technology and building standards.

What do you like most about firefighting?

The family atmosphere and the camaraderie between the fire companies.

What others should know about firefighting

For every minute on an actual call, there are hours upon hours of preparation, training, and clean-up.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

My father had a prominent role with EMS which greatly influenced me. I have also served with many great people both at Brunnerville Fire Company and our surrounding fire companies.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

Maintaining the key word — volunteer — for as long as possible.

What advice do you have for someone considering serving as a volunteer firefighter?

There is something for everyone, and there is plenty of things to do for all skill levels.

 


Michael Smith, Lititz Fire Company

This week’s Meet Your First Responder profile is about Lititz Fire Company’s Deputy Fire Chief, Michael Smith. Mike, 42, has been a volunteer firefighter with Lititz Fire Company for the past 27 years. He is a resident of Lititz Borough, married to Jane, and has two daughters, Emily and Cecilia. He also has a German Shepherd puppy, Brooks.

A graduate of Warwick High School and Bucknell University, Mike is employed as the engineering manager at Derck & Edson in Lititz. In addition to spending time with family and volunteering at the fire company, Mike also enjoys watching hockey and serves on the Lititz Borough Planning Commission.

In addition to serving as the deputy fire chief at the fire company, Mike is the vice-president, serves on the membership committee and also serves as a driver.

Why did you join the fire company?

It’s something that I wanted to do ever since childhood.

What level of training have you completed?

I have an associates degree in fire science. I am also nationally certified as Fire Officer 2, nationally certified as a Fire Instructor, and a Pennsylvania State-certified Vehicle Rescue Technician.

First memory of responding to a fire call:

I was part of the fire company for only a few weeks when a natural gas explosion resulted in several houses burning on Water Street in Lititz in February of 1991. I was a high school sophomore at the time and I remember hearing sirens all day long. As soon as school was over I went to the fire station to see what was going on and about that time crews were starting to return. I didn’t actually get to go to the call but I spent a long evening at the station helping to get equipment cleaned up and back in service. To this day I remember that it didn’t even seem like work because I had a great time with all the members that were there helping and I was happy to be a part of the team.

Most notable incident:

I have had the good fortune to be a part of rescuing several individuals from building fires. One particular rescue occurred around noon on a weekday in the middle of Lititz. An apartment building on Main Street was on fire and there was an occupant trapped on the third floor. Another firefighter and I entered the building and located the unconscious individual in the apartment that was on fire. We carried the individual out of the building and he was resuscitated by EMS. The individual eventually made a full recovery.

Biggest challenge about firefighting:

It’s never the same. Every call is different and you must constantly be assessing the situation and thinking through the possible solutions.

What do you like most about firefighting?

I love the challenge of solving problems.

What others should know about firefighting:

I wish people knew how much thinking and skill are required to perform the necessary tasks. We are a very professional organization with extremely dedicated individuals.

Why do you continue to serve?

I enjoy the challenge and making a difference in the community. It’s something that needs to be done.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

That the number of people willing and able to volunteer will continue to erode.

What advice do you have for someone considering serving as a volunteer firefighter?

You have to have a passion for it. You will lose sleep. You will sweat a lot. In the worst weather, you will be outside going from call to call. You will meet lots of new people, but usually on the worst day of their life. It is completely unscheduled. Emergencies happen at 1:30 in the morning and 1:30 in the afternoon. If you can push through all of those hardships, you will make a positive impact on lots of lives, including your own life.


Brett Shoultz, Lititz Fire Company

This week’s Meet Your First Responder profile is about Lititz volunteer firefighter Brett Shoultz. Brett, 23, has been in the fire service for nine years, the past seven with Lititz Fire Company. Brett is a resident in Warwick Township, has a two-year-old daughter, Cassidy, and a girlfriend who is very supportive of his service as a volunteer firefighter.

Brett graduated from Warwick High School and is employed as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with Manheim Township Ambulance. Brett enjoys spending his free time hunting, fishing, camping, and spending as much time as possible with his daughter.

Why did you join the fire company?

I joined the fire company to follow in my dad’s (John) footsteps. He has been in the fire service for about 25 years and I started when I was 14. I have always looked up to him when it came to anything with the fire service. A lot of what I know has come from him.

What is your role in the fire company?

Suppression Level Firefighter.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

The very first fire call that I ran with Lititz after being voted in as a full member was a working vehicle fire.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

I would have to say it was back in June of 2012 on Father’s Day. The fire company was dispatched for a morning house fire around 7 a.m.. It was the first fire that I was on after being suppression qualified. What makes it so notable is that not only was it my first fire but I was able to go inside with my dad on Father’s Day and got to do what we both love doing.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

Anything can be a challenge being a firefighter, but you need to know if you are going to be able to accept and overcome any challenge that is put in front of you.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

Being able to serve my community the best I can and being able to help those who need it.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

Some people think we are crazy for what we do, but we do it because in the end we know we are helping people and making the community a safe and better place.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

To make sure I can do everything I can to make the community safe and be there to help someone in their time of need.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company?

Yes, a friend from my Boy Scout troop before he left for the military.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

My dad, John Shoultz. He has been the one I have looked up to when it comes to the fire service, and he has been the one to push me and kept me going and made sure I didn’t lose interest.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

That one day I wouldn’t be able to do my job and not be able to help someone in need.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

It is a great way to be able to help out your community in time of need and it can be rewarding at the same time. If you are looking at becoming a firefighter and joining the fire company, the best thing is to go down to the fire house and talk to someone.


David Hartman, Brunnerville Fire Company

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Brunnerville Fire Company volunteer firefighter David Hartman. David, 31, lives in Lititz Borough and has been a volunteer firefighter for 17 years, including the past five years with Brunnerville Fire Company. David has also volunteered with the Neffsville Community Fire Company and still volunteers with the East Petersburg Fire Company.

David is married to Ashley Hartman and they have a one- year old daughter, Noel. He is a graduate of Hempfield High School and is employed as a technician for East Coast Propeller Services in Lititz. David’s hobbies include Legos, playing church softball, and spending time with family.

Why did you join the fire company?

My father, Alan Hartman, was a member of Manheim Fire Department, Neffsville Community Fire Company, and the East Petersburg Fire Company. I followed in his footsteps.

What level of training have you completed?

I am nationally-certified as Firefighter 1, have certifications in Hazardous Material Operations and Vehicle Rescue Technician, and have completed many other training classes.

What is your role in the fire company?

I serve as a firefighter, trustee, and the president of the Firemen’s Relief Association

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

I started as a junior firefighter at the age of 16. I responded to a vehicle accident and stood by with a fire extinguisher.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

Keeping up with the expanding hours of training.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

The brotherhood and serving the community, from helping to install a smoke detector to responding to a house fire.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

That it’s not what you see in movies or on television. We are normal people doing extraordinary things.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

I really enjoy doing it.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

My late father, Alan Hartman.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

That it may not continue.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Come to the fire station and see for yourself. I guarantee that you’ll walk away with an application.

Anything else to add?

Stop by the Brunnerville, Rothsville, Lititz, or Brickerville Fire Companies on any Monday night or any time you see a car there and check it out. We always need more volunteers, from firefighters to fire police or administrative support.


First Responder Zach Miller, with his son, Brandt, and wife, Melinda

Zach Miller, Lititz Fire Company

This week’s Meet the First Responder profile is about Zach Miller, the captain and training officer with the Lititz Fire Company. Zach, 32, has been a volunteer with the fire company for 16 years, joining as a junior firefighter. Zach lives in Lititz Borough with his wife, Melinda, and young son, Brandt.

Zach is a graduate of Warwick High School and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. He is employed as a CAD/CAE system analyst at TE Connectivity. Zach’s hobbies include woodworking, hunting and spending time at his family’s cabin.

Why did you join the fire company?

I became interested in the fire service because of two friends from Boy Scouts; one was a member of the Lititz Fire Company and another had an uncle in the Brunnerville Fire Company at the time. Being involved in Boy Scouts certainly prepared me for serving in the fire company and since you can only be a scout until you are 18 years old, I was looking for a way to continue serving my community and learning new skills.

What level of training have you completed?

I am nationally certified at the level of Firefighter 2, as well as considerable advanced and specialized training.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

The first really memorable call was riding in the front seat of our old ladder truck to the Smucker’s Meats fire in Manheim. I’m sure there are earlier ones but that’s what first came to mind.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

A fire that occurred two doors down from my brother’s house. I was the officer on our engine and one of the first firefighters there. My brother’s house (and others) sustained minor damage but there is no doubt in my mind that the actions of myself and others saved his house that day. To me this is what the volunteer fire service is all about — helping neighbors, friends, and family right in your own community.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

There is always something new to learn and a new problem to solve.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

The same things that make it challenging. Something I like about the volunteer fire service specifically is the wide variety of backgrounds and skills the volunteers have from outside the fire service.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

We have the same training requirements and performance expectations as paid/career fire fighters. That requires a huge time commitment.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

I enjoy it and the other people involved in it. It’s a great way to serve my community.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company? If yes, who?

My brother. He is no longer a member, but provided many years of service to the community.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service?

My deputy fire chief, Mike Smith.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The lack of understanding and support from the community.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

It’s a great and rewarding undertaking, but don’t underestimate the commitment it takes.


Kurt Gardner, Brickerville Fire Company

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Kurt Gardner, the president and fire police lieutenant at Brickerville Fire Company. Kurt, 55, a volunteer with Brickerville for 10 years, resides in Elizabeth Township with his wife, Heidi. He and Heidi are parents of Adam, also a volunteer firefighter at Brickerville Fire Company, and Lyndsay, who has also volunteered with the fire company. They are also grandparents of Hudson and Harper.

Kurt is a graduate of Warwick High School, Franklin & Marshall College undergraduate program, and Dickinson School of Law. Kurt is an attorney and partner in Gardner & Stevens, PC, in Lititz and Ephrata. In addition to his career and volunteering with the fire company, Kurt also enjoys boating, golfing, hunting, fishing, gardening, and spending time with his grandchildren.

Why did you join the fire company?

Heidi and I joined when Adam began to volunteer as a junior firefighter. We wanted to support him in this activity.

What level of training have you completed?

I have completed numerous classes and certifications within the fire police division.

What’s your first memory of responding to a fire call?

My first call was the tornado that flipped a mobile home near the Middle Creek in Clay Township.

I remember seeing roofs torn off, trees uprooted, and debris everywhere. I remember directing traffic at a four-way intersection (where two directions were closed due to trees and debris on the road) in lots of rain, thunder and lightning.

What is the most notable call you have responded to?

The all-night call during Tropical Storm Lee in September of 2011 which brought water rescues, massive flooding devastation and, unfortunately, loss of life. Amid that dark time, however, the dramatic rescue by our firemen of a young mother and her children from their car remains a bright example of exactly why we volunteer as first responders.

What do you find most challenging about firefighting?

The biggest challenges can be dropping whatever you are doing (even if it is sleeping in the middle of the night) to respond when the pager sounds, and the rare member of the public who ignores your instructions or is rude to you while you are trying to do your job effectively.

What do you like the most about firefighting?

My time spent as a first responder is a chance to serve my friends and neighbors at some of life’s most difficult times — fires, accidents, natural disasters, etc. It is frequently exciting, and it is almost always very fulfilling. I like knowing that I am helping to make a difference in my community.

What do you wish other people knew about the volunteer fire service?

I wish people knew how simple it is to get involved, and I wish they knew how much they would enjoy it once they did.

Why do you continue to volunteer as a firefighter?

I have met some great people, and responding to emergency calls never becomes mundane or boing. I firmly believe that we have an obligation to give back to our community. I can think of no better way to serve the area right where I live than to volunteer as a first responder.

Have you been able to recruit anyone to join the fire company? If yes, who?

Yes — most recently my neighbor, Scott Thompson, as a fire police officer.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career in the fire service? Mentor?

My son, Adam, who first got me started, and Michael Snyder, the fire police captain at Brickerville Fire Company, who provided constant encouragement and training help when I was new. It has also been great to have a supportive and involved wife and daughter.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The demands of our busy world are making it increasingly difficult to find volunteers, especially among younger people. If people are not willing to volunteer, paid fire service (at increasing expense to everyone) will become our reality.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining the fire company as a volunteer?

Don’t wait — you will find serving to be extremely gratifying. The next person you help in a time of urgent need could be your friend, co-worker, or neighbor next door!


Chris Buchmoyer, Warwick Community Ambulance Association

This week’s “Meet Your First Responder” profile is about Chris Buchmoyer, a paramedic and the operations chief at War­wick Community Ambulance Association. He has been em­ployed at WCAA for the past 13 years.

Chris, 43, is a resident of Manheim Borough and has four children: Austin, a junior at Lancaster Bible College; Kasey, a high school senior who is planning to join the Navy after graduation; Ian, a high school sophomore and a junior firefighter; and Caleb, an eighth grader who loves soccer.

Chris is a graduate of Done­gal High School and the St. Joseph Hospital Paramedic In­stitute. He spends a lot of time on his bicycle and does several organized rides throughout the year. In August of 2015, he was elected to the Board of Direc­tors of the National EMS Me­morial Bike ride and this past August, he was elected sec­retary. The NEMSMBR has five routes scattered across the country where cyclists (usually fellow EMS providers) ride up to 100 miles a day to honor EMS providers who have become sick or injured and died in the line of duty.

Why did you get involved in the emergency medical service?

I was 16 when I became an EMT because I enjoyed doing what few others my age were doing. After a few calls, I realized that helping people was in my blood.

What is the most notable call that you responded to?

I was a member of the PA EMS Strike Team that responded to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

What do you find most challenging about emergency medical services?

EMS is constantly changing with current medical practices, which requires continuous learning and re-learning of new and old procedures alike, because some old procedures find new use with the changing medical climate.

What do you like most about EMS?

Continuously learning new things and meeting new people. This area has a wealth of different personalities and people who have been instrumental in changing the way the world views itself. Being so close to what used to be RCA, I’ve met a lot of people who were involved in developing color television.

Who has had the biggest influence on your EMS career?

A gentleman from Missouri named Bob Page. I spend a lot of time listening to him whenever possible.

What is your biggest concern about the future of emergency medical services?

I’m concerned that certain procedures that are vital for survival could be removed from our scope of practice because of infrequent use.

What do you wish other people knew about EMS?

Many people in the community still call EMS providers “Ambulance Drivers.” While driving the ambulance is part of what we do, it’s only the beginning. We spend thousands of hours learning our trade between initial schooling and continuing education. Every time the ambulance leaves the station, there is enormous amounts of training and experience coming to help someone in the community.


Devin Learn, Lititz Fire CompanyDevin Learn, Lititz Fire Company

This week’s Meet the First Responder profile is about Devin Learn. Learn, 33, has been a volunteer firefighter with Lititz Fire Company for the past six years. He is a resident of Lititz Borough and has a daughter, Olivia, who just recently started Kindergarten. The two of them enjoy going to the park, swimming, fishing, playing miniature golf and anything else that they can do together.

A graduate of Tunkhannock Area High School and Penn State University, Devin is employed as the healthcare market executive for Benchmark Construction Company, Inc. In addition to spending time with his daughter and volunteering as a firefighter, Devin also likes to go skiing, golfing, hiking, hunting and fishing.

Role in the Lititz Fire Company:

I was just appointed as a lieutenant on the operational side and I’m also the chairman of the building and grounds committee.

Why did you join the fire company?

I joined the Lititz Fire Company after moving to the area following college because it was a passion that I wanted to continue and to give back to my community. I followed in my father’s and older brother’s footsteps by joining the volunteer fire company in the town I grew up in when I was 16 and have enjoyed it ever since. I knew wherever I settled down after college that I wanted to continue to serve.

First memory of responding to a fire call:

Riding with my dad in his truck to a brush fire when I was a kid. It was exciting and surprising to see all the people that came out to help.

Most notable incident:

Too many to pick one. We see people at some of the worst times in their lives and it is important to remember that we should do everything that we can to help them through those times.

Biggest challenge about firefighting:

The random hours and times that calls come in. There is no pause button to finish dinner or whatever you might be doing at the time and there is no snooze button so that you can roll over and go back to sleep. When the call comes in, we have made a commitment to respond whenever we are able.

What do you like most about firefighting?

The camaraderie with the fellow firefighters and being able to help those in the community.

What others should know about firefighting:

Firefighting is a lot of work, and it can be dangerous, but it is also a lot of fun and very rewarding.

Why do you continue to serve?

For the same reason that I started in the volunteer fire service — it is my way of giving back to the community and helping others.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

My father, Eugene Learn.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

That we will no longer be able to bring in new recruits and that we won’t be able to support the costs of the equipment and apparatus.

What advice do you have for someone considering serving as a volunteer firefighter?

Come out and spend some time at your local volunteer fire company. Get to know the people and see what interests you and how you may be able to contribute, even if that is not being an active firefighter. There are a lot of different ways to help out and be a part of the fire company.

Favorite quote:

God created firefighters so that cops would have heroes too!

Final points:

I think there can be a lot of misconceptions about volunteer fire companies and how they are staffed and how they are funded. Everyone should be educated about their local fire companies and the troubles they face, including the recruitment and retention of volunteers, and delivering this crucial service at a low cost, with no paid staff. The bulk of our funding comes from fund drives, other fundraising activities, and donations from the local municipalities, but not from a dedicated fire tax.

So please keep this in mind the next time you get a fund drive letter in the mail. Please donate to your local fire company!


Dennis High, Rothsville Volunteer Fire Company

This week’s “Meet Your First Responders” profile is about Dennis High, a volunteer firefighter with the Rothsville Volunteer Fire Company. Dennis, 55, is a resident of Rabbit Hill Road in Warwick Township and has been a volunteer at Rothsville for 39 years.

Dennis is married to Donna, and together they have four children: Dwight, Dawson, Dayna, and Deanne. He works full-time as an auto-technician and enjoys hunting and spending time with his family. A lifetime member of the fire company, Dennis has the role of a driver/pump operator of the fire engines.

Why did you join the fire company?

My family was involved at Rothsville Fire Company. My father (Lloyd) was a former assistant fire chief, brothers (Kevin, Fred, David and Lamar) were firemen, and my mother (Mary) was involved in the ladies auxiliary.

First memory of responding to a fire call:

Responding to vehicle accidents where alcohol was involved. This has kept me from ever having a desire to consume alcohol.

Most notable incident:

Responding to a house fire involving a fatality.

Biggest challenge about firefighting:

The constant changes of training requirements.

What do you like most about firefighting?

Helping those in their time of need.

What others should know about firefighting:

Being a volunteer firefighter is a serious responsibility, but it is needed very much and is very rewarding.

Why do you continue to serve?

The community needs it.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

My father, Lloyd High.

What is your biggest concern about the volunteer fire service?

The training requirements that the state imposes on the volunteers.

What advice do you have for someone considering serving as a volunteer firefighter?

It takes a lot of commitment, but it is very rewarding

 

 

 


Meet Your First Responders is a bi-weekly profile of one of the many volunteer or career emergency services providers in the Lititz, Warwick and Brickerville areas. Not only are these the firefighters, fire police officers, ambulance personnel, etc. who are coming to your aid; they are your neighbors, friends, relatives, local business owners, youth sports coaches and others in our community. Take a moment to learn about the first responders, their family, how they got involved in emergency services, why they continue to do it and more. If you desire to follow in the footsteps of any of these first responders, or just want to learn more about serving, call 717-626-8900 and ask to speak with Duane Ober. 

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