Could You Be One of the Ones?

By Allison Mowatt

truck2With the recently launched recruitment marketing campaign called One of the Ones, Pike County officials are hoping to raise awareness about the importance of the need for more volunteer emergency responders.

“We’re looking to retain existing membership and increase our volunteer base through this county-wide program and also spark an interest in our youth,” said Commissioner Caridi.

He gave an idea of just how important such a program is to the county. “Over a decade ago, the Commonwealth had about 300,000 volunteers,” he said. “Now the Commonwealth has about 50,000.”

laddersThe reason for the decline is many families require two incomes, leaving little time for the training drills required and time spent on emergency calls. This fact is compounded particularly in Pike County because it is the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania, bringing twice as many emergency calls with not enough volunteers to handle everything from fighting fires to raising funds for the companies.

The demand for county emergency service volunteers continues to increase. People can volunteer in a variety of capacities including firefighter, EMT, underwater rescue, heavy rescue, driver, administrative personnel, and grant writer.

This campaign is one the Commissioner earnestly discussed and planned for two years. In March, the Commissioners approved a contract with Canned Fire, Inc., a professional marketing firm, operated by Steve Powell. They purchased the program for about $43,000, and the One of the Ones campaign launched in September.

In order to engage the community and spread the word, county emergency training personnel made a professional video, which includes Pike County firefighters proclaiming what it means to be a volunteer emergency responder. The video is currently available online and will also be advertised on local television and radio. In addition, posters and brochures are available.

Pike County is the first county within the Commonwealth to initiate this program, which includes its eighteen fire companies. County officials and volunteers visited the three school districts within Pike, and now these schools feature emergency responder clubs. “Anyone fifteen years and up who wants to help is our target audience,” said Jordan Wisniewski, Operations and Training Manager at the Pike County Training Center. He is also a fellow officer of a local volunteer fire department.

flash3The Center on Route 739 opened in 2012 and is the hub for training and instruction for fire, ambulance, and police personnel. It is a professional state of the art multi-purpose training facility accessible to all emergency services personnel throughout the county. The three-story facility is beneficial to local EMTs, first responders, firefighters an,d police since before it opened, there was no place for volunteers to train locally. The center offers training for real life scenarios in rappelling and also hostage and forced entry situations. In addition, there are classrooms, a storage facility, and fire training tower for practicing live burns and evacuations. There is also a spot for a helipad and a storm water retention pond for practicing pump operations. The facility is vital in protecting the entire community and emergency service volunteers who put their lives at risk. “We want to give them every possible tool to save their lives and our lives,” said Commissioner Caridi.

OCT SBS2About eight years ago, the Commissioners helped form a group called the Emergency Service Training Facility Task Force with representatives from ambulance, police, and fire departments throughout the county who’ve met on a regular basis to discuss ways to attract additional volunteers. “With the One of the Ones campaign, we’re trying to roll off a recognition program where businesses and their owners can give thanks to the men and women who sacrifice time away from their loved ones to train and answer calls,” said Mr. Wisniewski. “They can offer discounts, rewards programs, or free merchandise. This is a policed program and each volunteer will have ID that states which agency they’re with.”

To get involved, visit your local agency and mention you’re interested in the One of the Ones program and in what field.

To find out how you can Be One of the Ones, fill out an application, view the campaign video or other details, visit www.pikesbravest.org or call (570) 296-1960.