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Professionally Staffed by Volunteers

By Staff | Dec 3, 2008

Keystone Hook and Ladder Company continues to stay on top of its game when it comes to public safety for Muncy borough and the surrounding communities.

Chief and 20-year member Jamie Brelsford invited The Luminary to discuss recent certifications that Keystone Hook and Ladder is the only station in Lycoming County to complete as well as see the new equipment Station 30 recently placed in service.

“It amazes me how little people know about their local fire department,” Brelsford said.

Keystone Hook and Ladder has always had a boat for water rescues as the borough does have its share of flooding events, but a desire “to maximize capabilities” lead to gaining certification through the Pennsylvania Water Rescue Instructors Association.

Ten company members are certified in self rescue, shore-based, and boat-based operations as well as advanced rescue techniques involving ropes and swift-water situations. Those 10, according to Brelsford, also plan to gain certification in ice rescue and be prepared for anything that comes their way. While other companies are trained in these kinds of rescue, Brelsford said Station 30 is the only one in Lycoming County with this “prestigious” accredited certification. He described the application process as a lengthy one, having to account for equipment as well as personnel training.

Keystone Hook & Ladder has also recently received money from the state for new tools of the trade.

The station used a $9,500 state grant to help pay for a power litter for the ambulance. The wheels retract with a push of a button rather than having a crew member lift them as the patient is loaded into the ambulance. Not only does this help with smaller crews running to ambulance calls, but it also gives crews the capacity to pick up larger patients. The new power litter has 700 pound weight limit while the old one was rated for 650 pounds. “It’s less stressful for the volunteers. Back injuries from lifting patients is a big concern for us,” Brelsford said.

Another $9,500 grant paid for replacing the station’s high air pressure bags used in rescue efforts. These heavy rubber bags connect to air lines and are expanded to lift objects off of victims. Brelsford said, “They also increase our ability to respond to industrial accidents” where victims may have limbs caught in machinery. The last six-bag set lasted 18 years and could lift 32 tons. The new nine-bag set allows lifting capacity of 74 tons.

Station 30 is always looking for volunteers to become active with all levels of the department business from administrative duties to webmasters who can assist with getting a website relaunched to responders who answer the call then there is a fire, motor vehicle accident or other type of emergency. The more hands available the better, as Brelsford explained employers are less flexible in allowing workers to leave their jobs to respond to emergency calls. And, it’s not just men who are answering the call these days. More women are becoming involved, a good thing Brelsford said he sees as breaking up the boys’ club image of the fire service.

Monday evenings from 7-9 p.m. are training times and potential volunteers are welcome to stop by the station then or call 570-546-3000 anytime for more information in getting involved with the work of Keystone Hook and Ladder.