By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
first responders. Please report to the following address: Rising Fawn United
Methodist Church, Highway 11 South. Nature of Emergency: Dinner, this Sunday.
Responders in Dade are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they get
called at all hours of the day and night, and they drop whatever they’re doing
or get out of bed to answer these calls,” said Joan Kenimer of the Rising Fawn
UMC. “They are wonderful. They come and respond and are cheerful and helpful,
and if it’s a medical call they wait with us for the ambulance, and if it’s a
fire they put out the fire. So we wanted to say thank you so much for what you
do for us, so we planned this dinner.”
dinner is from 4:30-7 p.m. this Sunday at the church hall, and all first
responders in the county – plus all members of their family – are invited to
attend. And if they won’t sit down and eat in a civilized fashion, the church
ladies are perfectly willing to pack them a box. They mean business here.
“We were hoping to get first responders from
all of Dade County,” said Ms. Kenimer. “That would be fire, police, 911 Center,
Sheriff’s – we have invited all of them to come with their family and have a
meal on us.”
This is a
general thank-you, said Ms. Kenimer, but there was a triggering incident: A
Rising Fawn UMC churchgoer with ongoing breathing issues had an episode right
in the middle of a recent Sunday service.
“She got into a thing here at church where she
was coughing and she couldn’t catch her breath. Her arms were going numb,” said
Ms. Kenimer. “Personally, I was scared to death that she was going to die right
there, so we called them.”
That story has
a happy ending: The first responders gave the lady oxygen and looked after her
until the ambulance came and took her to the hospital. “She’s still with us,”
said Ms Kenimer.
stressed, that wasn’t the only incident the UMC was thinking of in planning the
dinner. “There have been many of us who’ve been responded to,” she said.
The term ‘first
responder,’ explained Ms. Kenimer, is more a description than a job title. It
includes paid workers like police officers as well as unpaid helpers such as
volunteer firefighters and other civilians. “It’s all these people who come
when there’s an emergency,” said Ms. Kenimer.
ought to know; she used to be one of Rising Fawn’s first responders herself. “I
talked to Roger Woodyard, who’s our chief, and asked him if he would be
interested in having an old lady doing medical – I told him I was not
interested in fighting fires – and he said yes, so I started going to the
meetings,” she said.
In Dade, she
said, first responders are coordinated through the seven volunteer fire
departments, and that’s where those interested in becoming first responders can
obtain the necessary training. When she signed up, training at Rising Fawn was
available three times a month at the fire hall. She found it helpful.
certain things you do at an accident scene. There are certain things you do at
a fire,” she said. “You don’t go and fight a fire if you don’t know what you’re
doing, because fires are dangerous, and the same thing is true at an accident
scene. You can hurt somebody if you do the wrong thing.”
Ms. Kenimer, a
registered nurse, had seen her share of trauma before, but she said it’s
different as a first responder. “You don’t have doctors immediately available
out there on the highway. There can be a lot of blood. There can be a lot of
things that you really would rather not think about,” she said. “In the
hospital, they come to you already bandaged, and you’ve got people around to
help you deal with the situation. Out there, it’s sort of like combat. You’re
not dealing with bullets but there’s major trauma.”
It’s not all
highway accidents or fires, she said; another common call is people who have
been sick calling in the small hours because they worry they’re not breathing
right. “They get scared,” she said.
In that case,
first responders assess whether or not the sufferer needs an ambulance, and if
so, they stay with him or her until it arrives.
says being a first responder is physically demanding, and she felt ready to
retire from it about seven years ago.
But she remains
grateful to the approximate 20 Rising Fawn active first responders, and to the
dozens of first responders across the county who will come and lend a hand if
Rising Fawn has an incident too big to handle itself.
So Ms. Kenimer,
along with all the other churchgoers at Rising Fawn UMC – this is a churchwide
project – is cooking like mad for the Sunday supper. There will be chicken,
sloppy Joes, and who knows what else on tap.
says she and her church friends have called every fire department, emergency
and law enforcement agency in the county to solicit attendance at the dinner.
They hope the
first responders will, well, respond.