Bob Farrell, county EMS volunteers are heroes without capes
When you dial 9-1-1 during an emergency, these folks answer the call
Hundreds of volunteer EMS personnel have put their community before themselves over the past 40 years to provide exceptional, professional and reliable emergency medical care across Seneca County.
Last week, the commissioners thanked all volunteers across the county during Volunteer Appreciation Month. Among the groups thanked, were Seneca County EMS volunteers, past and present.
Bob Farrell is one of the longest-tenured volunteers. He runs with Republic EMS and Scipio-Republic Fire Department, he also is a part-time Echo Unit paramedic supervisor.
Farrell said he decided to start volunteering about 42 years ago, in 1977.
“I did it just to help my community out,” he said. “I started out volunteering for the fire department, then I went on to become an EMT.”
Farrell said his favorite part about volunteering for Seneca County EMS is that he can help people who need his services. He said he and other crews often face many challenges, such as when people go into cardiac arrest or if a person is suffering severe trauma from an auto accident.
“It’s tough, especially when it’s somebody you know,” he said.
Farrell deserves thanks for all of his hard work, but he wanted to make sure the rest of the hundreds of volunteers across the county understand how important they are.
“They are providing a service that the taxpayers would have to pay a lot more for. I feel it’s very important,” he said. “The volunteers are doing it because they want to help their communities. They are putting in their time, they are leaving family functions, school functions that their kids are in. They are doing it to help people that need them.”
Seneca County EMS Director Ken Majors said the county has about 80 EMS volunteers and about 200 volunteer firefighters.
“I really appreciate people helping, people volunteering their services. If we didn’t have the volunteers we have now, communities would have to wait a lot longer to get medical help, because the squads would come from wherever they are available from,” Farrell said.
Farrell said it is becoming more difficult to get people to volunteer across the country.
“When I started, usually with families, just the one parent worked,” he said. “Now, both parents are working, sometimes you’re working two jobs just to get by. It seems like there might not be enough time in the day. I just, I’ve been doing it for 40 years, I’ll probably do it until I decide I’m going to give up.”
Majors said for Farrell and many other volunteers, EMS is in their blood.
“I guess it’s just my commitment to the community,” Farrell said. “I like doing it. I like the people that volunteer with me. It’s like a job, but you’re not really getting paid for it. You’re getting paid by the people telling you, ‘thank you.’ You get paid because you know you’re an important part of the community. So, I’m glad I’m here and still running.”
Commissioner Mike Kerschner said Farrell and the selfless commitment of the many volunteers to their community is the fabric that holds the community together.
“You save us time, you save taxpayer money and often times you save lives,” he said. “You have our heartfelt thank you for volunteering your time, your treasure and your talent.”
Farrell said those interested in carrying on the great tradition of Seneca County EMS volunteers can call Majors, at the public safety office, (419) 447-0266.
“People can come in and go on a ride along for a few hours, to see if they are still interested,” Farrell said.
The county covers the cost of equipment and training for volunteers, while joint ambulance districts recruit new personnel. The volunteers of the department work for a small stipend from their ambulance district.
Not only does volunteering for EMS help your community, but it also gives you marketable skills and could lead to a career
“You pick up some valuable skills, especially CPR, if somebody’s choking, you have that ability to help somebody any place you go,” he said.
Farrell said he has many memories, but one of the most notable squad runs he’s been on was when a crew went out during a snowstorm and helped deliver a baby.
He said Seneca County EMS could not be successful without the foundation that was laid by the volunteers who have now retired or moved on.
“They helped start it, they got us interested in it, if it wasn’t for them, I might not have gotten into,” he said. “With all their knowledge and support, it really helped keep me in. Now I can pass on my knowledge and experience to the younger EMTs. I get to help them become an EMT like I am.”
Farrell urged people to find out what Seneca County EMS has to offer. If someone can only volunteer for a couple of shifts a week, it would still lift the burden on other volunteers.
“Whatever somebody can give, that helps us, it helps your community and I hope it’s helping you see what you’re doing and enjoying what you’re doing,” he said.
Farrell said after 42 years, he keeps coming back because he knows his community needs him. He and the rest of the volunteers in the county may not wear capes, but they are everyday heroes who don’t always get the support and praise they deserve.