Fire and Rescue Club begun at BCHS

Part 1

Part 2

About a month ago students at Bath County High School had an opportunity to join clubs that meet periodically in addition to academic classes. The clubs are all new, and we’ll hope to cover news from each of them in the months ahead. However, one with a wide range of community support and future benefit got my attention quickly. Bath County Fire and Rescue Association, and local volunteer fire departments are thankful for the efforts of one volunteer who is co-sponsoring a club promoting introductory Fire and Rescue skills, and volunteerism. Willie Jenkins taught carpentry in the VTE program at BCHS for years, and is also one of the founding members of the Mountain Grove VFD.

I wanted to find out from him what inspired getting that group going. “Can you share some of that with us?”

“Yeah, one of the things since I retired from working at the high school is that I miss the students quite a bit. And, I like working with students, and our county is in really dire need for younger fire and rescue members. I thought this would give me a big opportunity to work with students which I miss dearly, and also participate with getting them into fire and rescue which is a passion of mine.”

“What do you think a few of the things they can learn from being in the club might be?”

“Well, one of the things we want to try and get them to understand is the importance of being a volunteer, and the satisfaction of being a volunteer, and also being able to put their hands on the equipment of putting out fire, and EMS people use to get victims to the hospital in a quick and orderly manner. We like for them to be able to put their hands on the equipment, use it, see what it does, and maybe that will entice them to get more interested in all of it, and be able to help us out.”

Mr. Jenkins continued.

“Luckily I’ve been able to get Ms. Jordan, the science teacher at the high school to be a cosponsor. She just passed her EMT, so she is a registered EMT. And that helps a lot ‘cause I need some one at the high school to take questions from the students when I can’t be there. She works out really well to do that.”

I asked if the youngest members of either the department or the squad would be able to ride with the more experienced ones to learn more.

“Not right at this time, because there is an age limit when they can participate in an actual call. But they can come to the fire stations, and see the processes that they go through; possibly attend some of their meetings and see how that goes.   Those are all things they can do, but there is an age limit on letting them actually answer calls.”

“So the goal would be to have them be trained by the time they are the age to go on calls?”

“That’s right. Get their interest up, so that by the time they can go on calls, they have a pretty good idea of what they need to do, and how to act in those situations.”

In part two of this news piece Willie Jenkins talks a little more about how important it is to increase the volunteer base for organizations so essential to our communities’ safety. Even as technology helps improve communications and response time, ultimately it’s the human hands making the difference.

Please stay tuned to AMR for part 2.

It’s a special day when up to forty-eight adolescents sign up to try something new, and that’s exactly what they did last month at Bath County High School. Willie Jenkins, retired teacher and volunteer firefighter supported by Bath Fire and Rescue Association, and local emergency personnel introduced students from five grades to local emergency services through a club. He shared why local fire and rescue groups believe the club will benefit us all.

“We could use volunteers from all ages. These departments are really strapped for volunteers. “

Ms. Jordan, one of the Science teachers at BCHS recently became certified as an EMT and is cosponsoring the club. Students will alternate between learning from experienced fire or rescue volunteers from one meeting to the next. While there would be a lot of training, and likely a few more years of growing, the hope is some of the students introduced to EMS through the club will eventually pursue certification. Mr. Jenkins continued.

“Like I say, the EMS are really strapped for help. If any of you have monitors out there and scanners, you hear sometimes how long it takes to get people to answer calls. The only way this is going to be helped is if you step in and help volunteer.

It gets harder and harder in these rural communities to get volunteers. The training sometimes requires a lot of time to get all that they need to have done. We can use more volunteers in all the departments, especially EMS. We just need more help all over. It’s really kind of a good thing to volunteer. It gives you a good feeling, and you need to get some of the people that’s out there who can help us to get involved. It just takes a lot of dedication, and a lot of people need to get involved because it concerns me that one day, we may not be able to get help when we need it.”

As with most organizations there is a whole variety of ways volunteers can participate. It’s an opportunity to tap into skills you may have let get rusty, or to work around a friendly, skilled group of emergency personnel while you learn new skills, and prepare to answer calls.

“Some people think, well, what can I do? There’s all kinds of things you can do to support Fire and rescue in the counties, especially in rural Virginia. It’s just a whole lot of need out there, and we can use everybody we can get our hands on.”

For more information on the BCHS Fire and Rescue Club, contact Mr. Jenkins or Ms. Jordan. And for future news pieces on some of the other new clubs, please stay tuned to AMR.



Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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