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.