Emily Decker, a fourth year Environmental Geography major, hailing from Tomahawk, Wisconsin used her passion for helping people as well as her long time connection to her hometown volunteer fire department to create a unique service-learning project.
Decker, who had been a member of the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department since high school, recently went through grueling training to be certified as a firefighter and emergency medical responder. This included an 80-hour long course that culminated in an all-encompassing emergency medical responder exam. On top of the courses she took to become certified, Decker also participated in monthly training exercises with the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department that highlighted common emergencies faced during the season. During summer months there was an increased focus on boating emergencies; while during winter months, there was an increased focus on frostbite and safely recovering people who fall through ice.
Due to Decker being a volunteer firefighter no day was the same,
“I typically would go about my normal life, such as doing yard work or making a meal and then the pager would go off alerting myself and all other members of the fire department that there is an emergency call. Once the members of the fire department have been dispatched, it is the responder’s choice as to whether they would like to respond directly to the scene of the emergency or go to the fire station to take one of the rescue vehicles to the emergency scene.”
Decker also was able to gain invaluable experience in communication and problem solving skills, “Due to the fire department being volunteer, there is never a guarantee as to which members are going to show up on an emergency call, since sometimes two or three responders can show up and then later that same day ten responders could show up for the call.” Since every emergency has an almost infinite amount of variables at play and limited information, Decker would have to quickly come up with a plan to best make a difference at the scene of emergencies.
Various connections drew Decker to the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department, as Decker cited, “growing up with the Nokomis Fire Department being a pretty big part of my childhood as my dad was also a member. I also had a desire to help within my community and was allowed to see first-hand how important and necessary emergency services are in the rural community I grew up in.”
While most Blugolds make huge impacts in the community completing their Service-Learning requirement, Emily Decker went above and beyond with her service to the community and plans to continue to serve her local community as a volunteer firefighter.