Main Line Neighborhoods - Volunteering adds some fire to the life of Wayne residentKevin Woods tells Patch reporter what it's like to be a new volunteer at the Radnor Fire Department.
For Kevin Woods, volunteering at the soup kitchen was one small way to help those less fortunate. But, doing so wasn’t enough to satisfy the 26 year-old Wayne native’s urge to actively serve his community. And so, about a year ago, he walked into the Radnor Fire Department and signed up to become an emergency first responder and volunteer fireman. After an initial 200 hours of in-house training, weekly CPR and fire fighting drills, and just over seven months on the job, he has learned and seen quite a bit.
Showing off the newest addition to the squad, a ‘Quint 15’ truck dedicated in April of this year, Woods took me on a tour of the firehouse, a place that he pointed out already seems like a second home. When he is not responding to calls, he is there, waiting for the moment he is needed. The most common calls he and the other members of the Radnor crew respond to are automatic fire alarms, accidents on the Blue Route, and medical emergencies—including those that require supervision of medical helicopter landings, like one that occurred recently at Radnor High School.
When asked whether or not he finds it hard to balance his “regular” life with his volunteer life, Woods, an engineer, just shrugged.
“Not really,” he said. “For instance, I’m in graduate school right now and writing my dissertation. Well, I can do that anywhere and I’d rather be here while I do it in case they need me.” For some of the other members, though, those with families and fulltime jobs, the task is a little more difficult and so they depend on the volunteers like Woods. “That’s what makes being here so great,” he added, “everyone is really good people and we care about each other, and we watch each other’s backs, especially when we’re out on call.”
It was because of this camaraderie that Woods successfully assisted during what he recalls as his most memorable and nerve-wracking experience thus far. At his first fire-call, a fatal blaze that shook the township, the team spent about five hours making sure that the fire was extinguished and that the area was secure.
He knew that the officers would guide him.
“I just had to keep doing what they told me. Then, once I did a job, I’d ask again and they’d give me another. I didn’t sleep for two days after that because of the adrenaline rush.” Despite that rush, Woods also noted the importance of remaining calm under such stressful situations.
In addition to responding to emergencies, he says that being a member of the squad brings him closer to the community in other ways, too. As a volunteer, Woods gets to participate in town parades and holiday festivities, fireworks displays, and children’s parties. But those are just some fun perks to an otherwise serious vocation.
“Once people find out I’m a fireman, their attitude often changes,” he said. In their eyes he becomes someone different, someone their children can look up to, someone who just might be the one who answers the call that will save their life.
What advice would Woods give to those considering becoming an emergency volunteer?
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I probably made about a hundred mistakes on my first day, but I just asked questions and someone was always there to point me in the right direction.” Woods said he looks forward to the time when he’ll be the one teaching new squad members.
Original Article at: http://radnor.patch.com/articles/volunteering-adds-some-fire-to-the-life-of-wayne-resident#c