SIKESTON -- The Scott County First Responders are looking for people willing to make themselves available in times of crisis.
The First Responders are a non-profit group formed to assist local emergency management agencies during disasters and to assist with search and rescue operations, according to Tom Wilson, chairman of the Scott County First Responders' board since being elected Dec. 1.
"We've been together about a year," he said.
Equipped with a 24-foot mass casualty trailer, the Scott County First Responders presently have 26 members, most with EMT, firefighter or law enforcement experience. Additionally, members are trained and certified as first responders.
During emergencies, the Scott County First Responders are able to provide basic life support and have Community Emergency Response Team certification through the State Emergency Management Agency, according to Wilson.
The organization provides in-house training in basic first aid and CPR for members and will soon offer certification as first responders for members as Wilson is working on getting his first responder instructor credentials within the next couple of months. Wilson is presently a CERT instructor as well as being a Red Cross first aid and CPR instructor.
The group is made up of "people within the community," according to Wilson, that are dedicated to serving their community.
"It's in our hearts - we're trained and it's hard to let that much training and education go to waste," he said. "We like to put it back into the community."
For example, the group provides medical services at the Sikeston Drag Strip every Saturday night during the racing season, Wilson said.
Wilson said the group works with the Scott County and New Madrid County emergency management agencies in particular but are mobile -- they are willing and able to help not only in Scott County, but the surrounding areas if need be.
"We did triage down in Caruthersville when the tornado happened," Wilson said. The group also had their trailer at Benton to provide medical assistance to the Hurricane Katrina refugees. "We were there for three and a half weeks," he said.
"They have a lot of good training and experience that really doesn't need to be wasted," said Joe Burton, emergency management director for Scott County. "I asked them to go down to Caruthersville and they've helped the K
-9 Search and Rescue team a couple of times."
The group also offers educational programs for the public. "We do a lot of training for the community," he said.
The First Responders operate entirely on donations and money raised from hosting activities such as a haunted house, visits with the Easter bunny and a Santa's Workshop at the Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores.
The group believes in making their fund-raising events affordable so more residents can take their children to safe events rather than trying to raise as much money as possible, according to Wilson. "We do it for the community -- that's what we're all about," he said.
Donations and money gathered during fund-raisers go toward maintaining the trailer and equipping it with medical supplies, Wilson said, with any additional money going right back into the community.
Services are provided without any charge, on a voluntary basis.
The yearly membership fee for participating members is $25. "All non-profit organizations have to have some sort of membership fee," Wilson said.
The First Responders hope that when another disaster strikes in the area, "we will be able to help the communities and cities with any help they need," he said.
For more information about the Scott County First Responders, call Wilson at 573-703-4807.