EMTs work hard responding to calls from heart attacks, car crashes and many people in the midst of crisis. A group of volunteers in Kenmare give up their time to make sure people in the community are safe.
“I wanted to help people,” said Arlen Gartner, EMT.
And that’s exactly what Gartner has been doing for the last 46 years. He and 20 other volunteers have families, and some even work other jobs.
But that doesn’t stop them from sacrificing their time to help others in need.
“The reason we do it is just helping people,” said Emily Christensen, EMT. “A lot of times we pick up people on the worst days of their lives and if we can make that a little bit better that’s what our goal is I guess.”
They’re on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and aren’t paid, which is one of the reasons it’s tough to find volunteers.
“It’s hard sometimes. You get up in the middle of the night and you’re gone for 3-4 hours and it has an effect on the family and that stuff,” Gartner said. “And it’s a commitment and I wish more people would do it. We need them. We need people.”
Another reason is the 150 hours of school they have to go through to become certified.
“I think the biggest thing is people are scared,” Christensen said. “They think it’s all gory and it really isn’t. A lot of holding hands and just doing basic care.”
They don’t respond to calls every day. Christensen said they can go weeks without having one. Some are better than others, and when they do respond, it can be rewarding later on.
“When you can take somebody on the ambulance and help them and get a ‘thank you,’ or a smile on their face, it makes you feel really good,” Gartner said. “We really enjoy doing it.”
“Especially if you get to see them on the street later on and they say, ‘thank you.’ That’s the best thing. Makes your heart,” said Christensen.
Gartner said he plans on retiring in four years, which means he’s put 50 years in. And he encourages all of the younger EMTs to go answer the call and don’t hesitate to help somebody.
After hearing about the group of volunteers who sacrifice so much to the Kenmare community, the KX team decided it was our turn to give back.
The KX team spent the afternoon, talking and sharing lunch with people from the Kenmare Ambulance Service.
They shared stories about the calls they respond to, and how rewarding it is to see someone they’ve helped later on.
Thank you, Kenmare Ambulance volunteers for all that you do.