- Cedar Key News
- Details: Written by MANDY OFFERLE
Cedar Key Volunteer Fire Department
By Mandy Offerle
Having recently reported about the Cedar Key Volunteer Fire and Rescue Quarterly Report in the Cedar Key News’ April 30, 2015, article titled “Commissioners Thank Commissioners Hodges and Ryan for Service,” which recapped the latest commission meeting, I was intrigued by the volume and frequency of the incidents responded to by our Fire Department.
The Quarterly Report, January to March 2015, logged some 41 incidents ranging from medical assists to building fires and took the Cedar Key Fire Department personnel and equipment as far away as Fowlers Bluff and into the Gulf waters.
Knowing the Report’s backstory would have to be larger and fuller, I asked, and was readily invited, to spend a half-hour with Cedar Key Fire Chief Robert Robinson atop the First Street Fire Station Tuesday afternoon.
I believe that the residents of Cedar Key, Rosewood, Fowlers Bluff, and areas in between would like to know of my conversation with him. I certainly learned more about the wealth of expertise we have in the Department.
PRAISE FOR VOLUNTEERS
For our entire conversation, Chief Robinson never uttered the “I” word; always his pronouns were, “we,” “us,” “ours.” His exchange is dominated by his praise of the volunteers with whom he works: James McCain, Jamie McCain, Ken McCain, Ken Daniel, John Andrek, Sharon Ingram, and Matt Addams. He finds them devoted and consummately reliable and capable. Communication among the group is fundamental to their life-saving efforts.
Whenever we need these folks, they are there. The idea that their lives at home are put on hold when we need them and for as long as we need them is well worth reflection. Our area has its full share of people in pain needing help to get off the floor or down the stairs and those with bleeding wounds, broken bones, and needing breathing assistance. We certainly need their expertise.
Robinson himself carries two radios and a back-up cell telephone that travel with him everywhere. All three sit on the shelf next to the shower at home; they are on the book stand by his bed; they are on his hip or in his pocket the rest of the time. He says, “In the time it takes you to step out of your truck and walk to your trunk, you could miss a call. So they go with me everywhere.” Chief said, “To my knowledge, we haven’t missed a call yet.”
He knows, too, that his fellow firefighter/first responders treat the communication system the same way. When he hears a call, they hear the call. If possible, they are at the ready.
Though all of these volunteers have full-time job obligations elsewhere, all respond to calls when they are able. Obviously when a volunteer is at Seahorse Key or driving a school bus full of little ones, they cannot assist. But anything short of that, they communicate with Robinson and respond to the call if needed.
Neither Robinson nor these volunteers have so much as a beer while they are on the island and on call. “And when they are on this side of the Number Four Bridge, they are on call,” says Robinson. This was said as a ‘matter of fact’ statement by the Chief.
The tightly-knit group is in constant contact with one another. Should Robinson need to be off the island, he does so only after James McCain and he have spoken and made arrangements to leave Cedar Key safe.
When asked about 911 calls and how they work, Robinson told me that all calls in Levy County are received by a dispatcher in Bronson. That 911 dispatcher assesses the situation and confirms the location. Then he/she calls for fire or ambulance, most frequently both, in the zone of the county closest to the incident. Robinson and his group monitor all calls, countywide.
If the incident is out of Robinson’s locale, for instance Chiefland, he listens, but of course, does not respond unless specifically asked.
Should Robinson hear a call for an ambulance here in our area, he responds to it, though the call was not for a fire. He, and if needed, his group, as first responders are at the incident address as soon as possible to help the medical group in route.
AMBULANCE OFTEN NOT NEAR
Often the ambulance is over a half-hour or more away from the incident and the Cedar Key Fire and Rescue personnel are the first on the scene. They can do much but not administer medicine. The can staunch bleeding, provide oxygen, take vital signs, acquire patient history, calm the patient, and much more.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Imagine yourself with a child with a broken leg, or a spouse fallen off a ladder, or any other situation. Imagine being by yourself waiting for an ambulance an hour or so away? Imagine your life without the Cedar Key Volunteer Fire and Rescue. I can’t imagine it. It’s too frightening.