Fayetteville On a hot and muggy Monday afternoon in July, I’m sitting in the recreation room at the Fayetteville Fire Department with Kira Gridley, who, at 23 years old, is already a volunteer EMT-Basic, crew chief and driver. We’re discussing her schedule, which is split between her full-time job as an EMT at Rural Metro in the city of Syracuse and her Monday volunteer shift in Fayetteville, when alarm sounds and a dispatcher’s voice comes on. I can’t understand what he’s saying, but Gridley is already on her way out the door as she tells me it’s a Fayetteville fire call.
As we walk down the stairs, I can already hear the fire truck siren wailing in the distance. Within 30 seconds, we are in the ambulance with a driver and heading towards the outskirts of the village. When we arrive, firefighters are already making their way towards the house. I ask Gridley if she can tell how severe a fire is based on how quickly the firefighters are moving.
“If there were flames coming out of the window, they’d still be walking,” she says. “Our safety is priority – always. People are incredibly unpredictable. If they’re manic, or on drugs, or if they have psych issues, you don’t want to risk them going crazy.”
The fire turns out to be small – according to the dispatcher, an element caught fire inside of an oven, so Gridley and I stay inside the ambulance. She explains that even though she’s never had a patient on a fire call in Fayetteville, the ambulance always responds to an in-district call. And if it’s in a nearby district, the EMT staff is put on standby.
“We go to Chittenango occasionally” she said. “And Manlius and Minoa pretty frequently.”
Twelve minutes after we get the call, we are back at the station and Gridley tells me how she got involved as a Fayetteville EMT after taking an EMT class at Cornell University in 2008. She began volunteering as an aide during her winter break in 2009, and continued to work during summers and breaks. “I kind of fell in love with it,” she says.