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Volunteers training for new station

POSTED: July 21, 2010 4:00 a.m.
Michele Hester Dawson Community News/

Volunteer John Tarantini, left, goes over a first aid drill with Paramedic Barry Quarles during a training exercise last week.

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A joint agreement between Dawson and Pickens counties put a fire station in the under-served area around Monument Road last year.


This year, with the efforts of several residents living on the mountain, the station is well on its way to serving the area now known as the Wildcat Community.


Clayton Prebel, who was instrumental in raising funds to erect a water tower and have the fire station built on the mountain, was one of about 16 Monument Road residents who completed a firefighter support staff training course last week in Dawson County.


“This is the natural process of the next step, which is to get volunteers trained as support personnel,” he said.


After about 60 hours of basic firefighter training in areas ranging from communication and fire behavior, to tying required knots, ladders and personal protective equipment, the volunteers completed the course with 100 percent efficiency.


“They were pretty far advanced. Once we realized the group’s dynamic, we focused more on skills,” said Dawson County Emergency Services Assistant Chief Robbie Hughey, who oversees the training division. “They’re a very eager group of people.”


Prebel said there are six volunteers who plan to become certified drivers for the station’s trucks.


According to Hughey, the training gives volunteers the skills they need to respond to medical scenes, car crashes and fires in preparation for career personnel to arrive.


“They give us the eyes we need on the ground and lay the foundations of hose and medical attention prior to our arrival,” said Hughey, who added support staff performs no interior or hot spot work at fires.


Lanier Swafford, chief of emergency services, calls the volunteers’ efforts “a great example of community spirit.


“From a desire for fire protection, to working with two governments to acquire the land and the station, it’s a grassroots effort,” he said.


While Dawson County owns the equipment and manages operations for the all volunteer staff at Station 8, Pickens County owns the building and leases the land.


“I personally want to thank those that took the time from their lives and look forward to a long-term relationship,” Swafford said.


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