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Saving lives, one day at a time

Kira Gridley volunteers 12 hours each week as a Fayetteville EMT

Kira Gridley, 23, of Fayetteville, has been volunteering as an EMT at the Fayetteville Fire Department since 2009. “I kind of fell in love with it,” she said.

Kira Gridley, 23, of Fayetteville, has been volunteering as an EMT at the Fayetteville Fire Department since 2009. “I kind of fell in love with it,” she said.

— In the summer of 2010, before her senior year, Gridley accepted a part-time position at Rural Metro. And when she graduated in 2011, she began working full-time downtown on a four day on, four day off schedule and volunteering in Fayetteville every Monday night. I assume that means she gets Mondays off at Rural Metro, and she’s quick to correct me.

“Some Mondays, I work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. downtown, come directly here, and if I get out in time, I can make it to Fayetteville by 6:30,” she said. “If I have to work the next day, I’ll leave at 3 a.m., go home and take a nap, then punch in for work at 5:30.”

As I talk to other volunteers, I learn that Gridley’s jam-packed schedule is not unique. Everyone else who’s participating in the duty night program, at least the people I talk to, tell me they’ve just come from a full day of work. After shadowing Gridley for seven hours, I go home long before everyone else does, completely exhausted. I wonder how so many people have the stamina and dedication to volunteer at least twelve hours each week to this program.

Duty night program

The Fayetteville Fire Department currently has about 100 volunteer staff, 13 full-time career staff and three or four part-time firefighter/paramedics. The department is unique in that it participates in the duty night program, which means that every night of the week, the firehouse is full with two career officers, three EMS volunteers and four to six fire volunteers. Almost every volunteer works a night shift, while day shifts are primarily manned by the career staff.

Patrick Mannion, the department’s Public Information Officer and an EMT/firefighter, said he’s not aware of any other departments within Central New York that have a aimilar duty night program. He said it takes a certain kind of leadership, time and the necessary facilities to make duty nights possible.

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