10 in Their 20s – Dedication to community

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(Host) On Mondays, over the next ten weeks, VPR is featuring a new series of commentaries from “10 in Their 20s”, in which members of Vermont’s 20-something generation share their perspectives on issues that matter the most to them – from the local to the global. This week, Casey Huling reflects on the importance of community.

(Huling) These days I’m the hometown kid: teacher at my alma mater, firefighter, EMT, coach, bus driver. Now granted I went away for college and graduate school, there was a little traveling and a chance to work at the Boston Marathon. But there was always the pull to come back home – to Thetford.

As I reflect on what is important to me now, my community keeps rising to the forefront. I have a strong desire to be as engaged and active as possible.

A particularly rewarding experience has been my involvement with the local volunteer fire department; the ultimate community institution born of obvious necessity and rural frugality.
In Thetford we have excellent emergency services and I’m proud to have served for a year as an EMT and firefighter. The department maintains high standards through constant training and strong community support.

Membership runs the gamut from plumbers to teachers, high school students to PhD candidates. The modesty and quiet dedication of firefighters makes them virtually unnoticed in their communities, save for the annual coin-drop, chicken barbeque or 4th of July parade.

Involvement and participation goes well beyond these ‘gravy’ events, though. There’s the woodstove at the station to stoke, equipment to maintain and trucks to keep clean. Then there are the actual calls. The fire department and the FAST squad average a combined total of well over 200 calls a year.

Our responsibilities range from putting out fires and extricating patients from motor vehicles to investigating strange odors and assisting the ambulance crew, which has, more than once, involved making sure the patient’s dog has had its walk. We also respond to other towns in our area, providing extra assistance or equipment under our mutual aid agreement. The FAST squad also covers medical emergencies in the town and we also provide care at major athletic events at the Thetford schools.

In our town of about 3,000, only one percent of the population is actively involved in providing these invaluable services. The people that do engage themselves are extremely committed and dedicated to these efforts. I am especially drawn to the camaraderie and work ethic shown by everyone on the department. In my limited experience I’ve found that people do this because they can and they want to. Besides, the only real perk to membership is the use of the station’s garden hose to wash our cars.

I’m Casey Huling from Thetford.

Casey Huling, 29, is a middle-school teacher in Thetford.

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