In the late ‘70s until the ‘90s I was a member of a volunteer fire and ambulance service in Milroy. We had four trucks, started off with two and about 25 active members of the department. It was township owned and contracted out the man power to the volunteers. Our department and Rushville Township and Posey Township were the only government owned and operated fire departments in the county. We were dedicated, and many of the local businesses would allow their workers who were members of the department to leave work if needed. We had a lot of farmers on the department and they would leave their farming if a call came in.
Volunteers have, over time, saved the taxpayers of the county hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars by their unswerving dedication to their friends and neighbors. That is true today, but with a lot of differences. There are fewer farmers around so fewer people available during the day. There are fewer business establishments around the county and even in Rushville itself. Money is scarce and many departments, township and not for profit, are struggling to have the man power available to fulfill their obligations. And that is a problem throughout the entire county. There are those departments that seem to have things under control and others that are struggling. And I am afraid I see the struggling continuing and getting worse as we progress on.
Many businesses in the area are running as shorthanded as they possibly can if they are still in operation and hesitate or forbid their people to leave during business hours. I know from my experience it is, at minimum, around 3 hours for each call after you get the dispatch to the time you get home or back to work. I had a plant in Rushville but was available most of the time and would make runs from Rushville to Milroy frequently. We had a list made up of who was available and when and when they could and would be on call if needed. I spent two Christmas Eves away from my family because of ambulance calls. Neither I nor any of the others involved complained; our spouses may have, but I don’t remember any member not doing their best to make the call.