Volunteer voices. Four score firefighters learn about air rescue

Nearly 80 firefighters from 11 companies met recently at the East Berne Fire and Rescue Company’s firehouse to study Air Medical Utilization and Landing Zone Safety.

Instructor Steve Anderson, Regional Business Development Manager for Air Methods - Lifenet of New York and Guthrie Air, directed the training, and arranged to have a Lifenet helicopter land at the nearby Giebitz family’s airport.

The helicopter’s engine and capabilities were presented by pilot E.J. Holcomb, and medical procedures and transport protocols were explained by flight paramedics Ken Palazzo and Paul Jardine, and flight nurse Kaitlin McLoone.

Helicopter transport is used for medical emergencies where getting to the nearest hospital can make the difference between life and death. According to Anderson, airtime from Berne to Albany Medical Center is approximately eight minutes.

The Berne and East Berne Auxiliaries provided refreshments. Anderson, a longtime resident of East Berne, is a qualified professional flight paramedic who began his career with Helderberg Ambulance. The fire companies in attendance were Berne, Boght, Delmar, East Berne, Fort Hunter, Knox, New Salem, Onesquethaw, Rensselaerville, Voorheesville, and Westerlo.

In other fire news, the Berne and East Berne Fire Companies, who together form the Berne Fire District, responded to eight alarms in July. These included motorcycle and ATV and motor vehicle accidents, reported brush fires, and mutual aid to assist nearby fire companies.

Fire company members also went to the Berne-Knox-Westerlo school to demonstrate fire safety for the summer program kids.

A firematics competition was held at the Berne Town Park, with five fire companies (Slingerlands, Berne, East Berne, Quaker Street, and Westerlo) competing. The winner was the East Berne Fire Company.

Fire Police also assisted at the annual 5K Run. Our “boot drive” fundraiser was generously supported by the public, with some cars driving by more than once to make donations. Fire apparatus was displayed at the Altamont Fair for the children and adults to experience up close.

Upcoming events include the Berne Summerfest on Aug. 27, a wildland familiarization drill on Au.t 22, and a brush fire drill on Aug. 29.  The Berne Company meeting is at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of every month at the Berne firehouse on Canaday Hill Road.  East Berne meets on the second Monday at the East Berne firehouse at 7:30 p.m. Drills for both companies are on Monday nights. All are welcome; there are many jobs in a fire company that do not involve rushing into burning buildings, and all our members are volunteers.

Editor’s note: Phyllis Johnson is a Commissioner of the Berne Fire District, and a member of the East Berne Fire and Rescue Company.

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