What a difference a few months makes.
It wasn’t so long ago we were looking forward to filling out our NCAA brackets and cheering the appearance of a famous PA groundhog’s shadow to usher in a welcomed early spring.
Now, seemingly overnight, in almost every facet of our daily lives, the American people are resolute and sequestered participants in a life-and-death war of self-discipline against an unseen enemy: a novel virus never before encountered by humankind.
City dwellers, townspeople, suburbanites, and rural citizens are faced daily with the rigid demand of stay-at-home orders that limit all community interaction to essential travel and personal needs only; a battle strategy instituted nationwide by almost every governor as a best-weapon against this invader.
By not catching it and not spreading it, we have a chance to control it long enough … for our scientists and researchers to find a way to protect against it. And to fight it therapeutically.
But for hundreds of thousands of other citizens across the nation, there is no such hard, safe choice.
For them, staying home and staying safe is not an option.
In thousands of communities across our nation, in locations as challenging and unforgiving as hospitals and nursing homes and health clinics as well as within common, essential places like grocery and convenience stores, drug stores, food banks, postal and delivery services, and throughout public, non-profit and municipal organizations, the crisis at hand has given rise to a new understanding and deep appreciation for … the first responder.
As First Responders By Choice, We Wanted To Stop For A Moment To Thank You.
What you are doing is remarkable. We understand you.
What you are going through.
And we take our Black hats off to you in a salute
of professional respect and personal gratitude.
It’s different for us, see.
As an Alpha Volunteer Firefighter or member of the Fire Police, there’s no doubt about what you’re getting into when you join our company. We don’t sugarcoat the commitment we require or the brazen fact that no matter how long you do this, there’s always going to be something that happens that you’ve never seen before.
We accept hazard as an occupational one—Fire, Police, EMS, Military—we understand the risks going in, and in many respects, that’s what attracts us to service in the first place. Long before this virus reared its ugly head, we’ve had a recruitment period scheduled for now (and one scheduled in July) that opens our doors to all who have felt that particular call to serve.
So While Everything Has Changed Temporarily, Nothing Has Changed.
We cannot execute training here under current rigid social distancing guidelines—it’s just not practical or possible given that what we do by nature demands fluid, constant, practiced teamwork.
But that doesn’t mean, if you decide now is the time or July is the time … that we won’t do our level best to train you as safely as possible to the best of our ability at our first available opportunity.
Here is the most recent guidance from our Fire Director Steven Bair and Alpha Veteran Clifford Lutz, This is where we stand as of now as we honor the resolve of Americans everywhere doing their part for the greater good.
I think the terrible reality is that one cannot socially distance throughout the whole of training. It takes two or more to raise a ladder and advance a line and those people will be within inches of one another throughout the process. Certainly we can, and have, limited classroom time. But this is not the bulk of one’s training.
Fire and EMS are front line jobs and the risk of infection is not terribly different than the risk of being crushed, burned, impaled, or falling from height. There is no reasonable means to socially distance in a fire engine.
We can mask while training or working, we can wear gloves while training or working, and we can wash our hands after training and working. I think it is dangerous and disingenuous to suggest to anyone that we can or will abide by social distancing guidance throughout one’s training or during the execution of one’s duties. — Steven Bair, Fire Director
We’re in the “what if” business, but it’s tough to give an answer with the situation so fluid. IF the CDC is right, and IF the social distancing restrictions work, and IF we (the country) gets back to work by June … Alpha might be able to process applications to put together a full recruit class for the fall, or earlier.
There will be changes on how we do things in that class that may, for example, include more sanitation of tools, vehicles, clothing, and classrooms. We will follow CDC guidelines as they evolve along with best practices from fire service training academies. It’s the best we can do. But we always do that. — Clifford Lutz, Firefighter and Driver
Thank you first responders everywhere, and thank you America, for doing what must be done to win the day. Please know that there is nothing we face currently that will prevent us from answering your call if you need us.
For information on simple things to remember if you need emergency response services, please read our previous blog—and to learn more about what it takes to be a member of the Alpha Volunteer Fire Company or Fire Police, feel free to browse our story videos here.