National first responder shortage puts demand on the local responders

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) -The first few days after a storm are critical as families and the community regroup and gather what’s left of their precious memories.

The importance of first responders amplifies following natural disasters.

Columbus Fire Chief says the national first responder shortage is putting a higher demand on the local responders.

“Firefighters do more than fight fires,” Chief Duane Hughes said.

Chief Duane Hughes says the narrative surrounding fire crews’ responsibilities is misleading.

“87 percent of the calls we go on are medical. Anytime the ambulance is dispatched, the fire department is dispatched,” Chief Hughes said.

The first responder shortage was put on full display in places like Rolling Fork, where residents and first responders took to social media to ask for help. Not only do first responders provide immediate medical attention, but they also specialize in recovery missions on land or in water.

“Anytime that you have someone missing or is lost normally here in the city of Columbus, it may be dementia patients. Sometimes we many hunters that go out early in the morning and report missing; they’ve had some type of medical mishap; we have teams that are trained,” Chief Hughes said.

When storms swept through parts of Mississippi, Fire and Rescue crews from Columbus, Starkville, and West Point formed a task force to aid neighboring areas.

“You just know you have to be ready for it to come by staying calm and relying on the training that you’ve received,” Chief Hughes said.

Chief Hughes says the main part of wearing the uniform is being a public servant, especially during disasters

“Once a firefighter, always a firefighter,” Chief Hughes said.

Chief Hughes says that the Columbus Fire and Rescue are looking to hire and train individuals to be ready in the case of any emergency.

Categories: Local News