A select committee has been established by the Board of County Commissioners to study ways to promote volunteerism in the local emergency services, i.e., fires, as well as natural and man-made disasters that may occur.

Commission chair Paul Donohue reported at the regular meeting this week. The board selected Christy Blood, with the County Red Cross efforts, County Emergency Management Services Coordinator Eric Holt, and Heidi Whimple, of Panaca.

Donohue said, “We are going to start with promotions of some kind in the local parades that we have during the year, Homecoming, Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc. Put posters up at the ball games and place advertisements or articles in the Lincoln County Record for additional promotions. We’re trying real hard to keep up a push in getting our volunteerism numbers back up. We’re going to work on this for quite a while, I think.”

Blood said she is seeking to augment the Disaster Aid Team. “We will be registered with, and trained through, Red Cross. We will also try to help increase the number of EMTs and volunteer firefighters.”

“In Panaca, for example,” she said, “the Panaca Fire District allows teens from the age of 16 on up to become volunteer firefighters.”

Panaca Fire Chief Kerry Lee said, “They are able to go through the preliminary levels of training, learning how to operate machinery and hoses on the fire engines. However, they are not allowed to do actual firefighting, like going into a structure fire. They are not allowed to do anything outside the scope of their training.”

Blood said she would like to see “all of the communities in the county allow that, and I want to see the schools encouraging the kids to get involved, because that looks really good on their résumé.”

Holt said the committee is part of the Lincoln County Coalition to help “promote the fact of the need for more volunteers.”

He said he would like to see the ambulance services in Pioche, Panaca, and Caliente under the administration of the Lincoln County Fire District, of which he is chief, “so that I can oversee that.”

The Pahranagat Valley Volunteer Ambulance is under its own supervision and Holt says they are doing a great job. “We’d like to try to simulate what they’ve got. Combining the EMT and volunteer fire seems to strengthen the volunteers as they train together. We work together often, so training together helps strengthen the relationship.”

He added that there’s a significant commitment required for a person to go through EMT training, and therefore there is a challenge in terms of figuring out the best way to get interested people trained. “I’ve been researching some things with Great Basin College in Elko that have some online courses that the student can take it at their pace. On-campus training in Elko or Pahrump would be required about four times. And that class is a lot cheaper than going to a two-week intensified EMT course. I have a lot of dynamics on that I’m trying to work on and we are making good progress.”

Anyone interested in becoming an EMT or volunteer firefighter is asked to contact EMS Coordinator Eric Holt, 775-962-2376. For the Disaster Aid Team, contact Christy Blood, 775-962-2865.

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