By CHARITY SMITH
RAMSAY — Volunteer firefighters, in Bessemer Township will soon become certified emergency medical technicians. The township board approved paying for four firefighters to receive the training this fall at Gogebic Community College, during its regular meeting on Monday night.
“All of us in the Bessemer Township Fire Department are not just firefighters, we are first responders. With EMT training, these firefighters would be trained to not only provide medical care until further assis- tance arrives, (brief moments can be life savers) but would also train us in stress management, scene safety, and safety pre- cautions,” said Steven Selin and Elizabeth Gray in a letter to the township board. “This would enable us to not only help those in need, but in addition, our entire department as well as other personnel on scene.”
The interest arose after hearing of the opportunity through fellow firefighters in the city of Wakefield, which is also paying for its firefighters to take the course, according to the letter from volunteer fire- fighters to the board. They said ship the township firefighters would love to have the same opportunity and suggested teaming up with the Wakefield fire department for funding.
“The primary reason for their department’s desire to enroll in this training was because of Beacon pulling their ambulance (garage) out of Wakefield,” said Selin and Gray in their letter. “This makes the closest ambulance either the hospital or the Beacon Station in Ironwood.”
According to Selin and Gray, the township fire- department serves a large district and is often the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency. She said that many fire-departments across the country are requiring EMT certification. Selin and Gray said not only would a “person in need” benefit from having EMT certified firefighters, but the entire township as a whole.
“I personally think that this is a really good idea,” said board treasurer Hope Tarnaski. “Oftentimes when (firefighters are)called to fire, accident or something (they) are the first person on the scene and it could save a life.”
The cost of the training is $2,031 per person. This includes $554 for a text- book, $63 for a back- ground check, a registry exam fee of $98 and $20 for uniforms. The funding will come out of funding the township has in the general fund for firefighter training.
Township supervisor Jeff Randall brought up the issue of whether or not to pay the firefighters for obtaining their certification on top of paying for the course. The answer from the board was a resounding no.
“I would not pay them on this one. I would say pay for the course, but not pay them like they’re on our time,” said Tarnaski. “The other training (that the township pays for) is to become a firefighter.”
Tanaski suggested that the board place certain contingencies on receiving the training with township funds. The board agreed and the motion was placed to move forward with allowing the four interested firefighters to enroll in the course, under the condition that they would agree to specific terms. The terms will be specified at the next meeting Aug. 23. They will include completing the course with a passing grade, a commitment to the township fire department for a certain number of years or reimburse the township if they must leave earlier.
“That’s over $2,000 of tuition for training that you can basically take anywhere,” said Tarnaski. “So I don’t want to pay for somebody to become trained to go someplace else.”
Board member Sue Roberts agreed, saying, “it’s a commitment.”
Randall said they will start by granting the four interested in receiving the training, rather than the entire department considering the cost, and then possibly have more firefighters trained next year.
The course runs from Oct. 2, 2021 thru March 2022.
The board also:
–-Received a quarterly update from Don Ormes who represents the town- ship at the Gogebic County Council of Veterans Affairs.
–Was informed that some interest has been generated in the ordinance enforcement officer position and that Randall will interview someone on