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March 2002

Taking the heat:
Two staffers volunteer for their communities

Some of the smaller communities outside Boulder rely on volunteer firefighers and other emergency personnel to ensure the safety of residents. The training for such positions takes hundreds of hours, and the actual work can be physically exhausting—as well as highly rewarding.

Here’s a look at two staffers who’ve answered the call. SN Monthly plans to write about employees engaged in other types of community service in future issues..

Scott Doney: 400 calls a year

Scott, a CGD scientist who specializes in numerical modeling, walked into a Louisville fire station more than eight years ago and asked about volunteering. Although his only related experience was working as a lifeguard while in college, "I wanted to do something in addition to sitting at a computer terminal," he recalls.

 
CGD’s Scott Doney. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

The training on topics such as fire behavior required a major time commitment—some 300 hours in Scott’s first year to get certified, followed by 50 hours every year thereafter to remain an active volunteer. Fortunately, says Scott, he didn’t have any other hobbies to take up his time. He now has Colorado certifications as a basic EMT (emergency medical technician) and Firefighter I, as well as a certificate in hazardous materials (HazMat) operations.

Scott responds to about 400 calls a year, ranging from emergencies such as fires and car wrecks to reports of cats stuck on roofs. "I like helping people, and there is also an adrenaline rush on some of the calls," he says. "It’s a lot of fun."

One of Scott’s more satisfying moments occurred a few years ago, when he was called upon to help a woman who was in cardiac arrest and considered medically dead. "We were able, with the paramedics, to bring her back. Outside of hospitals that’s a relatively rare occurrence. She was fine afterward."

Scott enjoys the comraderie of volunteer firefighting. "It’s a good group of people. They basically become your surrogate family."

He’s cutting back somewhat on his volunteering now that he and his wife have a son. "The balance has shifted more toward family," he explains. But when he can find the time, he’d like to get more specialized training in HazMat operations or heavy rescue procedures.

Gary New: a family tradition

Gary, a computer facility engineer in SCD, spent much of his childhood in Bailey around firefighters because his father volunteered for the Platte Canyon Fire Department. "If you wanted to spend time with Dad, you went down to the station," he says.

 
When he’s not at SCD, Gary New spends his time as a lieutenant in the Wheat Ridge Volunteer Fire Department. For more about him and CGD’s Scott Doney, a volunteer EMT and firefighter, see page 6. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

He has worked as a volunteer firefighter since the early 1980s—first in Bailey and now in Wheat Ridge, where he is a lieutenant. His state certifications are Firefighter II, HazMat operations, and first responder. A veteran of many fires, Gary will readily recite such fundamental rules as: "The first object at a fire is search-and-rescue" and "You never want to get into a situation that you don’t know how to get out of."

He can recall a number of difficult moments in his firefighting career. In Bailey, for example, Gary was deep in a burning structure with a fellow firefighter when the water pressure gave out. Fortunately, he made his way out unharmed. "The line went limp," he recalls. "It got real hot. We beat a hasty retreat."

More recently, Gary was called upon to operate a 102-foot-high aerial tower above high-voltage wires while fighting a blaze.

Although he was not involved personally, September 11 was also a difficult day for him because of the hundreds of New York firefighters who perished in the World Trade Center. "They were in a no-win situation, and they went in anyway," he says. "That was a tough day for a lot of fire departments."

Working as a volunteer is an intense time commitment, and Gary admits that he sometimes asks himself whether it’s worth it—especially when "it’s 10 below at 2 a.m. and you’re out there rolling hose."

But he adds: "If you’re going to do community service at the point where people need the service the most, this is it."

It’s also a lot of fun, he says with a smile. "Where else do you get to drive a great big shiny truck like that? There’s always that kind of little-boy thing about it."

•David Hosansky


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UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > March 2002 Search

Edited by David Hosansky, hosansky@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Carlye Calvin
Last revised: Wed Mar 13 17:08:40 MST 2001