Friday, December 23, 2016

Here comes Santa Claus

I love seeing Santa outside of a mall. That’s why I think it’s neat when Santa gets a ride around the neighborhood from the local fire department.

As a kid, I saw Santa ride around on a firetruck to visit people in the community. Growing up, we celebrated Christmas with family friends and exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve. Santa would stop by our friends’ house every Dec. 24 on a firetruck to visit, and the firefighters gave us candy canes.

Especially now that I’m a volunteer firefighter, I enjoy seeing various fire companies driving Santa around on their firetruck. I have reported on a few holiday events where firefighters escorted Santa and the kids got excited to see him. Adults smiled too.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Downingtown, it's been a tough day

There are days after I leave the newsroom that I hope no one asks me how my day was. How do you answer that when you reported on someone dying or their near-death experience? Before I joined the fire service, I had that thought about first-responders. What do they say when they come home to their families?

By 8 a.m. on a rainy December day in 2015 about a week before Christmas, I had received several tips about two separate incidents in Downingtown. A report of a serious two-vehicle crash early morning and a dead body found overnight. Among the people I called for information, Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell said the lieutenant “called to inform me of the second tragic incident in Downingtown in a 12-hour span.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Being thankful

When you join the fire service, you become a part of several traditions. During the season of Thanksgiving, my fire company has a tradition of having breakfast at the firehouse to celebrate the holiday before we spend the day with our families. It’s a chance to gather with our brothers and sisters. I’m thankful to have them in my life.

Our Thanksgiving breakfast is about enjoying the little things. We enjoy the company of others. We have breakfast with the crew that we see often which adds to our friendship. We also catch up with people we haven’t seen in a while. I experienced that same friendliness with new people when I worked on Thanksgiving after I left the firehouse.

I work every Thanksgiving because it’s a fun holiday to interview strangers about their day and then write a story about their role in serving or being served at a Thanksgiving community dinner event. It began as a tradition for people who have lost their family members or do not have family local. This gave them a place to go to share a meal with other community members.

Every reporter loves telling someone’s story. Sometimes we learn that we have a similar story as someone else despite taking different paths.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Serving as a first generation firefighter

Some firefighters come from a family of firefighters while others like me are the first in their family to join the fire service.

My family said little when I told them I decided to become a volunteer firefighter. I imagined that they heard me talk about helping others, but that they also interpreted my aspiration as, “I’d risk my life to run into burning buildings.” Wanting to experience a new physical challenge, I found my calling in the fire service. I hoped my family would be supportive of my decision, despite if they understood it.

My fire company family supported us while we attended fire school at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center. They wanted to see us succeed and we can apply on scene what we learned. The officers and firefighters asked about our progress in school. When asked, they helped us review skills by practicing how to do certain tasks, such as opening a hydrant to establish a water supply, performing a search and rescue, and how to operate our SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus).

Having the support of fellow firefighters came as no surprise. They understand because they live it. I also wanted my family to show support of my new-found passion, even when that’s not easy for them. Just like any family, they are afraid that we could get hurt or worse.
Ginger Rae Dunbar serves as a first generation firefighter. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Narcan can save lives

Sometimes the worst thing you could do is nothing. That applies when someone is in cardiac arrest, as well as an opioid overdose. The best thing you should do is call for help.

Naloxone, also known by its brand-name Narcan, is an over-the-counter drug that temporarily reverses the symptoms of an opioid overdose. Naloxone does not work on someone without a heartbeat. For someone in cardiac arrest, call 911 then perform CPR.

Opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths nationwide in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Delaware County recorded 52 heroin-related deaths and Chester County recorded 66 that year. Police officers in both counties carry Narcan.

The more that the opioid epidemic and Narcan saves are reported on, the more awareness can be raised. According to the American Addiction Centers, three commonly prescribed opioid medications are Vicodin, OxyContin and morphine.

Following a car accident, one of my friends had been prescribed OxyContin. Mindful of drug addictions of a strong medication, my friend took half a pill. When I checked on her, she admitted she felt good with the pain gone. She understood why people become addicted.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

First-responders PTSD is real

Some of the speakers at graduations, events, funerals and victim impact speeches have shared advice that I hear as journalist and apply to my own life.

I reported on Bobby Petrocelli, originally of New York, who lost his wife Ava to a drunk driver who crashed into his Texas home. He told his story to Pennsylvania State Police and Chester County municipal police officers. Ava was trapped, still alive, under the drunk driver’s truck.

“You guys and girls know this greater than anybody, life does not happen and change in one day, life happens and changes in one moment,” Petrocelli said. After he was treated at the hospital for his injuries, Petrocelli learned that Ava died at their house. “I knew at that moment the life I once knew would never be the same again.”

Petrocelli later heard that one of the other paramedics from that night had committed suicide years later because she was so distraught that she could not save Ava.

Image result for bobby Petrocelli
Photo by Vinny Tennis, Daily Local News - Bobby Petrocelli speaks to Pennsylvania State Police and Chester County police officers about the night he lost his wife Ava to a drunk driver. Petrocelli, also injured in the crash, now speaks to first-responders to encourage them to seek help after they respond to a traumatic experience.
“(The paramedic) dedicated her life to saving others. She did everything that she could to restore my family that night and it just didn’t happen. She tried her best. She carried that shame and that guilt around with her,” Petrocelli said. “You will see things; you have seen things that sometimes will work on you.”

Petrocelli now speaks to first-responders to urge them to confide in each other when they need help. He told the officers to find a way to cope. He encouraged the police to talk with someone when overwhelmed by what they have experienced. A person of faith, Petrocelli urged them to talk, pray and even cry with someone about it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fire prevention week teaches people of all ages to be safe

Firefighters nationwide during fire prevention week are teaching elementary school students how to “stop, drop and roll.”

Firefighters visit students at their schools in October to talk about fire prevention and safety measures. Kids get excited when they see the firefighters arrive on their apparatus.The firefighters gear up in their protective  clothing and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus)  to show kids what they will look like during an emergency, as a way to show the kids they are not scary, but rather, they are there to help them.  Firefighters show them how to crawl low in smoky conditions and what to do in the event of a fire.

I remember attending these school programs and open houses at fire stations throughout Delaware County when I was a kid and how I found everything exciting – there was so much to see on the ambulances, the fire apparatus and in the respective stations.

Whether I’m at such events as a volunteer firefighter or a journalist, I noticed that some students are not shy about asking the firefighters questions. Asking questions is another way to learn.

Firefighters encourage students to practice fire drills at home, similar to the fire drills they practice at school with their classmates and teachers. They encourage families to designate a safe meeting spot, such as at a neighbor’s house where they can call 911 during an emergency. Practicing such drills helps kids know what to do when the smoke detector sounds.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Responding to your family member

When you serve in your community, you face a chance of responding to help someone you know. 

A few of our members have had family members or they themselves have been in an incident where our company responded. It’s something you try not to think about. You just know that they are in good hands because you know the first-responders are well trained.

With the predicated rainstorm coming, I had been getting ready to go to the station in case calls came in. Fellow firefighters had advised us that if we are available to respond to incidents during inclement weather to go to the station in case our services are needed. We make quicker responses by waiting at the station. During some rainstorms, for example, we anticipate that we may have to respond to emergencies involving downed wires or downed trees.

I turned on my scanner before I responded to the station. I heard a report that a tree fell down on two occupied vehicles with a report of down wires. My pager sounded for an unrelated call on my way to the station. It was the start of a dozen calls during the storm.
This tree fell on to two vehicles and it took down wires with it during a rainstorm. One of the drivers involved in the incident was firefighter Ginger Rae Dunbar's father. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Remembering 9/11

I have a newspaper from 15 years ago that news outlets reported on and captured the horror that we faced as Americans and the resiliency we later felt.

In seventh grade I saw on the news the terrorism that we only learned about in history classes. Now I’m reporting on schools hosting ceremonies to honor the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11. Many students who participated in such ceremonies were too young to remember it or weren’t born at the time of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. It still surprises me to realize they are studying history that others learned about in their own way by watching the broadcast in school as the attack unfolded.

My middle school principal announced that a plane hit one of the Twin Towers. I wondered if it happened by accident. He gave teachers permission to turn on the news, and that was how we learned – our principal didn’t want to be the one to tell us. Instead the reporters informed us that terrorists hijacked airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the pentagon.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Firefighters are thankful for their drivers

When first asked by my fellow firefighters if I’d want to drive the apparatus in the future, I decisively said no. Most times I laughed as I said no, and I meant it. After some consideration, I quickly changed my answer to “not yet.” 

I like riding on the apparatus. I like packing up as we’re responding. I like learning on each call. I still have more I want to learn and experience as one of the crew members before I start learning other jobs like the drivers. Not only do they maneuver the big long apparatus to the emergency scene, they also pump the water to assist maintaining a water supply at fire scenes. 
Photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - Pictured is the Speculator Volunteer Fire Department in New York with its three-door bay open, displaying its apparatus. 
I’ve heard on our scanner at the firehouse and on the scanner in the newsroom of times when fire companies are unable to respond because the crew does not have a qualified driver to operate the required apparatus. My station has five pieces of apparatus – two engines, a tower, a squad and a rescue - that the drivers obtain their qualifications on each.

I realize that if we don’t have a driver, we cannot get out of the station to respond. That’s one reason why we thank our driver when we return to the station. We also thank them because they got us to the call and home to the station safely. Sometimes our appreciation reflects our gratitude of their willingness and success in doing something that we cannot do.

I also give them credit for knowing our local and surrounding municipalities. You have to know the street names, where the unit or hundred blocks are, where the nearest hydrant is, and how to get there from the station. Fire companies have pre-plans of routes for drivers to take and a map of hydrant locations. Our drivers memorize the routes and detours. Our officer in the front passenger seat assists as needed.

When asked, many said they decided to become drivers because of the times that they would respond to the station and the firefighters waited for a driver to arrive. One of the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center fire school instructors, a driver, said it best that there were times he stood in full gear with other firefighters when he thought if someone could drive they would be on their way, so he became that someone. 

I feel fortunate, especially for our town, that my company has a decent amount of drivers. Our deputy chief said that “scratching” (meaning the crew is unable to respond) during the daytime or overnight is not an option.

I might realize that I prefer not to drive. Most times we learn through experience what we like to do, and what we prefer not to do. When we climb ladders, we find out quickly if we are afraid of heights. When we do ventilation on a roof, we discover if we would rather stay on the ground. The same concept applies to what you do at work. As a journalist, I began to enjoy reporting political news even though I avoid talking politics in my personal life. I have fun interviewing people about their accomplishments because I meet new people and tell their story, something every reporter loves doing.

Honestly, I hope it’s a long time before I start driving the apparatus. I decided not to limit my options of how I can help as a volunteer firefighter.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

All Lives Have Meaning

A year passed since reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed on the job in Virginia that sparked high emotions in newsrooms nationwide.

Stories that hit close to home always hurt the most, whether you’re a reader, viewer or member of the media. Our lives in the media aren't much different than anyone else's life. We aren’t perfect either. We cry too. Some of us pray. We bleed. We die on the job. Our number one job-related death is murder. Our lives matter too.

WDBJ7 Reporter Allison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed on the job on Aug. 26, 2015. 
It’s always hard when you lose one of your own, even if you didn’t know them personally. Police officers, firefighters and military service members feel that pain with line of duty deaths. Each group shares a bond, a second family, that can only be understood by those in that vocation.

The WDBJ7 TV station, where Allison and Adam worked, was among the many media outlets to report on their deaths. You could hear the pain in our voices when we talked about the loss of our own as members of the media. It was in the back of our minds as we worked that warm August day that it could happen to us. We stayed strong together. Many of us reached out to friends in the media and entertainment business and encouraged safety. We are cautious on assignments. Despite that, we don’t always see the potential dangers around us.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Earning challenge coins

Pictured is the challenge coin that Past Chief Joseph M. Lombardo Jr.
presented to Ginger Rae Dunbar.
I carry two challenge coins in my pocket every day. It’s not a lot, but it means a lot to me.

I received my first challenge coin as a journalist from a police chief as a thank you for my reporting. I earned three more as a volunteer firefighter.

I earned two during fire school at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center from lead instructor Chief Joseph M. Lombardo Jr. Of those two, he gave me one for my 96% average test score – the top in my class. Lombardo, a past fire chief at Garden City Fire Company, has a tradition to present students with a challenge coin for having a 90% or higher test score average. He informed our fire chiefs about our progress throughout the four-month “firefighter one” program. My fire chief gave me and my two fellow firefighters in my class our fire company challenge coin upon completing fire school in December 2015. They both also received a coin from Instructor Lombardo for their test score average.

When we thanked Chief Lombardo for the coin, he told us we earned it. The nine of us that walked away with a coin and the top scores of the class successfully strived to be named among the best.

Challenge coins began as military tradition, one that builds camaraderie. Service members could earn them as a medallion or a reward for valor. Many carried them as a memento. It also represents that they are a member of that organization.
 Pictured is the challenge coin that Chief Joseph M. Lombardo Jr. presented to Ginger Rae Dunbar and eight other students for having a 90 percent or higher test score average. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gift for and from the heart

When you love someone, you would do anything for them. But when your loved one passes, I realized you could still do something for them in their memory. I never suspected I’d do something like this, but when the opportunity presented itself as an answer to my prayers, I purchased an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) in loving memory of my Mom for my church community.

Ginger Rae Dunbar poses by the AED she purchased in loving memory of her mother at her Delaware County church. 
My family joined my pastor and church leaders who unveiled the AED in July 2015. My church deacon said to me, “A life is gone, yet lives will be saved. What an amazing gift and what an amazing person you are.” The glory is God's.

It’s the most expensive gift I’ve bought that I hope never needs to get used. Losing someone is more costly than any dollar amount. When I told my sisters about the donation, they also wanted to contribute. We all donated money for new first-aid kits in our mom’s memory. It reflected the amazing relationship we all shared with her.

It’s important to have an AED available, if God forbid it’s ever needed. A few first-responders noted that they often responded to cardiac arrest emergencies in churches.

I wanted give back to the place that gave so much to me and my family during our most difficult times when we lost Mom in 2014. The support from the Delaware County congregation and messages by my pastor gave me hope. In a sense, his sermons revived my life just as an AED could do – giving someone hope and a second chance to do more in life. My second chance led me to the fire service to help others.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tower ladder training: be fearless

I remember seeing firefighters in the bucket of the Tower ladder, or climbing the Tower ladder toward a burning building. I saw that several times when I watched nearby at the scene with my press badge displayed on my lanyard, my reporter’s notebook in one hand and my pen in the other. I had a simple thought: wow, I would never do that.

I honestly probably thought about that often when on scene reporting what happened. I imagine I shared the same thought as the public who read about the fires or watched as it unfolded.

As a reporter and bystander, I gave a lot of credit to firefighters for what they do. Now as a part of the fire service, I give even more credit to firefighters. Two years into my career as a journalist I joined my local fire company. Soon after that I began learning and practicing the firefighting skills that I saw on scene as reporter.

I’m not eligible to operate the bucket on our Tower on the fire ground because I’m still in training. We take our time training and getting comfortable using the controllers to move the bucket up, down, left, right, forward toward buildings and back down toward the apparatus. We are learning how to put our master stream into service from the bucket to flow water. 

Ginger Rae Dunbar and several firefighters are training how to operate the bucket on the Tower and how to put the master stream into service during drill nights. 
I wondered how I would handle the movement in the bucket. While I love roller-coasters and other amusement rides, sometimes I suffer from motion sickness on planes and ships. However, the bucket is nothing like the tea cups and the movement of the bucket takes some getting used to. It feels like you’re standing in a partially enclosed outdoor elevator. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Live-burn training at fire school – demonstrating you’re prepared

The fire school instructors called the final burn skills day a “show me” what you learned day, which meant we needed to demonstrate the abilities during this live-burn training that the instructors taught us throughout the program. We learned some skills from our fire company and our members helped hone the skills as we learned them in school.

Photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - Pictured are two firefighters tasked as RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) during a live- burn training at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center, which is similar to the "final burn" skills day in the "firefighter one" program.  
The squads – students in the “firefighter one” class divided into groups called squads - totaled 30 students who went into the training center burn building to prove to our instructors that we were prepared by showcasing our skills, including fire suppression. We wanted to enjoy everything we worked so hard to learn and accomplish. The hours of lectures, reading, studying, performing skills and practicing outside of school paid off and it benefits you as a firefighter for future responses.

As I observed my one-year anniversary of joining my local fire company, I reflected on my journey as a volunteer firefighter before the final burn started. I accrued the basic knowledge of firefighting with a desire to keep learning.

I carried a challenge coin in my pocket during the burn in November 2015. I earned it a few days prior from the lead fire school instructor for having a test score average above 90 percent. Although it symbolized how hard I worked in school, I carried it with pride and like a symbol of protection.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A new challenge: the Tower Ladder

For some reason I like climbing ladders. I’m not afraid of heights. It’s the feeling of a falling motion that bothers me.

After fire school, I wanted to continue my in-house training and get bucket-qualified on our Tower which reaches 95 feet off the ground. Our company began the training for several of us who are eligible. Most of our senior members are already qualified and they have encouraged us along the way.

One requirement that initially made us nervous is climbing the ladder up and down in full gear. We practiced it because there is a chance that we may climb to rotate out firefighters. I preferred climbing up rather than climbing down.

Before we climbed the ladder, our fellow firefighters wished us luck. When we climbed down after we completed the task, each firefighter said good job. That’s what I like about the crew. Encouragement goes a long way. During fire school at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training School, we received positive reinforcement from the instructors.

“Give praise,” authors Chip R. Bell and Ron Zemke said, “and give it generously.”

All of us operated the controls in the bucket during a few training nights with a firefighter overseeing our progress. It felt like we operated the bucket like an amusement ride. Between the enjoyable view and the firefighters who supervised us and helped us stay focused, that made me less nervous as we did this. Their crucial role helped during the times that the movement of the bucket got to me. I plan to keep practicing to become familiar with the controls and terminology to extend the ladder forward and retract it back, raise and lower, and rotate it left and right, as well as how to flow water.

Ginger Rae Dunbar and several other firefighters are training on the Tower to get bucket-qualified, learning to use the controls and flow water during drill nights.

Friday, June 17, 2016

DUI no one wins

Shortly after our vehicle rescue training concluded, we responded to a car accident reported with injuries. Upon arrival, we assessed the vehicles involved and we were prepared to apply what we had just practiced.

They say your training “kicks-in” and it did now that I have more knowledge of how to stabilize vehicles, and how to access entrapped patients using hand tools and hydraulic tools. We did what our instructor taught us, including putting the vehicle flashers on because we couldn’t disable battery due to the damage. The airbags in one of the vehicles had deployed. We are careful of non-deployed airbags for safety reasons as we work.

Fortunately no occupants were seriously injured. That is not always the case. I have reported on numerous fatal crashes, including DUI-related crashes. Police had one driver perform a sobriety test. I’ve seen that conducted as a journalist, a volunteer firefighter and a by-passer. Between interviewing families and gathering information from first-responders, the time of the DUI–related crash and DUI arrests stick out to me, especially daytime ones. 

Our crew returned to the station early afternoon, nearly two hours before my deadline to submit a column on how a Chester County high school graduation honored a student who had been killed by a drunk driver. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Remember them on Memorial Day

When thanked for his service, World War II veteran Marty Brittingham said “just doing my duty as a citizen.”

That response always made me smile when I thanked veterans at the end of the interview for their time and for their service. Brittingham enlisted at 18 after he graduated high school and served in the Coast Guard from 1942 to 1946.

Brittingham still remembers his service number: 562425. He said it so fast and with pride that I asked him to repeat it slowly so I could write it down. He was one of many veterans that I met and interviewed over the years at a Memorial Day parade.

I grew up watching holiday parades. At a young age, the Memorial Day parade ranked as my favorite. I later participated in parades in high school and college with the color guard, a part of the marching band. Now I’m reporting on the Memorial Day parade and most recently I’m participating in holiday parades with my fire company. A few of our members have served and currently serve in the military. The men and women in the fire service and other organizations take pride in participating in such parades nationwide to honor the men and women of our armed forces who died to keep us free.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Youths donating to their local fire company

I recently reported on two stories about kids donating toward organizations, including volunteer fire companies. The best part is that these kids decided by themselves to do this.

Springfield resident Ryan Natow had a birthday gift request: home-made birthday card and a dollar donation to his local fire company in Delaware County. His friends complied and gave him money at a block party for his fifth birthday party. A crew from the fire company attends such block parties. The crew from the Springfield Fire Company arrived at this block party in the Squad, unaware how much Ryan enjoyed their presence. Jason Natow, Ryan’s father, said that the kids enjoy operating the booster line from the apparatus.

Ryan and Jason visited the fire station to hand-deliver the $115 donation. Jason noted that many friends provided $5 to $20. He said they gladly donated more than they anticipated.

The men and women of the Springfield Fire Company were surprised and grateful for the generosity shown to them.

“We are thankful to Ryan for thinking of us at the Springfield Fire Company to financially help us with the services provided to our neighbors,” Battalion Chief Thomas Foran said. “We appreciate his selflessness to give back to the community, especially at such a young age.” 
Photo courtesy of the Springfield Fire Company Facebook page
Five-year-old Springfield resident Ryan Natow donated $115 to the Springfield Fire Company on May 17, 2016. Natow asked his friends and family to bring a donation for the firehouse rather than buy him birthday gifts. After he toured the firehouse, Natow posed for pictures with several of the volunteer firefighters. Pictured with Natow, from left to right, are firefighters Colin Richers, Eric Lyons and John Smith.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Outperforming yourself with the help of an instructor

I’m thankful for the opportunities at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center that improved my skills beyond what I imagined and equipped me as a volunteer firefighter.

We advanced a charged 2.5-inch hoseline to the second floor which proved difficult with four crew members total in full gear and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus). A fire school instructor then challenged four of my squad members and me to advance the charged hoseline from the first floor to the third floor with 50-feet of the hoseline in the room.

When we re-established the water supply, the hoseline felt heavier in our hands. Despite any doubts, we went to work. I called it good practice, especially for a real-life scenario to make do with the amount of available crew members.

I later told that instructor that he confirmed what I thought when I signed up for fire school: it would hard, but worth doing. I wanted to do my best, especially as the training became more rigorous. Many of the instructors helped us to dig deep to give more than what we thought possible. This particular instructor’s teaching style enables students to surpass their aptitudes.
Photo credit:
Those two exhausting times we advanced the line a total of five stories were physically demanding, and it was the best way we learned. When what we tried did not work, we tried other ways and relied on each other for the team-effort. When you struggle, you learn to overcome.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Learning at a mock car crash demonstration

In the media we often report on crashes, including fatalities. In the fire service, we often see and help at crashes that people are injured or killed. Some are accidental, including weather-related accidents. Some are caused by distracted driving and some are DUI-related crashes.

Before the prom season starts, high school students witness a mock-car crash demonstration through a program that involves a rehearsed crash scene with theater actors, high school students and emergency responders that serve that community.

Photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar, Daily Local News
First-responders from the Lionville Fire Company and Uwchlan Ambulance assist at the mock car crash held at the Downingtown East High School in Uwchlan Township, Chester County. 
Main Line Health said in a news release that the mock-car crash program helps “educate young drivers in our region about the extreme danger of distracted and impaired driving.” It received a $45,000 grant from the State Farm Insurance Company to provide the program through its 10-year long partnership.

“This grant will help deliver an impactful experience that we hope will encourage healthy habits and decision making for teen drivers,” Main Line Health said, “ultimately preventing avoidable tragedies from taking place.”

Automobile crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teenagers.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Giving back to your community as a volunteer firefighter

Volunteering as a firefighter is a great way to give back to your community. It benefits you as a person and your community. I’m in the beginning of a new adventure, one that is full of rewarding challenges.

Before the fire service became a big part of my life, I knew little about it. I knew only a few firefighters before I joined my local company. I talked to one of my friends, a former career firefighter, about the fire service. He described it as a great service opportunity. He also had some warnings and offered to help me as needed.

“It’s not for everyone,” my friend said.

I also heard that on the first day of fire school at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center. The instructor, who is a career firefighter, repeated the words slowly, “it’s not for everyone.” We started with 42 students, including me. We finished with 26 firefighters.
Upon completion of fire school at the Delaware County Training Center in December 2015, Ginger Rae Dunbar became a nationally certified volunteer firefighter. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A journey from journalism to firefighting…

I have interviewed firefighters who have been serving longer than I have been alive. I have asked volunteer firefighters why they joined to include that in an article. I had not expected to become one of them.
Ginger Rae Dunbar 

I had never wanted to become a firefighter. Life plans and dreams evolved at some point.

At 25, I officially joined as a volunteer firefighter at my local fire company in October 2014. I became a certified firefighter in Pennsylvania upon completion of fire school in December 2015 at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center. At that time, I also passed an exam to become nationally certified.