Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 5-31-10
Depending on the location, rural hospitals may not be much more than glorified first aid stations. Such a hospital can stabilize victims, provide immediate care, and may have an emergency room, but does not deliver babies nor have surgical units. It is imperative that you check out the level of care at the local hospital before you move to an area and judge your move by your own level of health.
911 emergency call-in service should not be taken for granted as it not available in all rural areas. In addition, where rural roads are not well marked with road signs, emergency vehicles are at a further disadvantage. It is extremely wise to have someone go to a known location on a main road and lead the ambulance or other emergency vehicle to the incident. If necessary, call a neighbor to perform that chore. Even where signage is well-posted, it can save precious time if there is a leader. It can make the difference in life and death.
There are areas of the country that do not have emergency services within their communities. You should check to see what you can expect along these lines before you make a move. In rural areas where they do exist, fire departments, search and rescue teams, and ambulance crews are made up of trained volunteers. These folks will leave their places of employment – farms, ranches, office jobs, construction or other vocations – at a moment’s notice to help others. These volunteers will be your neighbors and they are trained and tested to state and national specifications. However, they are not professionals who do these necessities every day.
For those will take the time, volunteer fire departments are always looking for more help. If you cannot actually fight fires for some reason, perhaps you could help with fundraisers or keep the accounting books. The trucks have to be maintained by the volunteers. Especially in the very rural areas, the departments have to do their own outfitting – that is if they want to change tanks or other equipment, it is up to them to do so. You could change the oil and do other mechanic work, if that is your strong suit. If you end up needing the fire department’s services, please remember to thank the fire fighters. Indeed, you should make a donation to the fire department or turn a bill into your insurance company which would issue a check to the department. Offers to fill the gas tanks on the trucks after the fire or to bring coffee and cookies to the fire fighters, would also be welcome. There are always more expenses than the little bit of tax money the county doles out.
Consider how you might be able to assist your local volunteer fire and ambulance services. Even small gestures mean more than you might imagine.
Peggy writes from the family ranch at the foot of the Black Hills. She can be contacted through Peggy@PeggySanders.com.