The mission of The Firetones, West Thurston’s Auxiliary, is to “aid and support our Fire District, firefighters, and community in times of need.”
We show our support in a number of ways:
- We help with community events sponsored by West Thurston and the volunteer Firefighters’ Associations such as the annual Santa Breakfast, Rummage Sales, Easter Egg Hunt, and Fire Protection & Life Safety Fairs.
- We participate in additional community events such as the Scott Lake Fishing Derby, Tenino’s Oregon Trail Days, and EMT/ Firefighter Recruit School Graduation.
- We sponsor families in our community during the holidays, including organizing our Giving Tree, which provides food and gifts for children at Christmas.
- Our Sunshine committee purchases and prepares flower arrangements and gift bags for firefighters to take to patients and their families during follow-up hospital and home visits.
Several of our members are part of West Thurston Fire Support which provides rehab to firefighters at emergency scenes (rest, re-hydration, and monitoring of vital signs) and if needed help provide a meal after the fire is out.
Not only do we include parents and spouses of fire department personnel but welcome other members from our community too! The Firetones is the perfect group for people that want to be a part of the fire district but do not wish to become a firefighter or EMT.
West Thurston Support
Every year, heart attacks represent the number one cause of death for firefighters during duty. Fire department rehab is a critical firefighting service on the fireground the can help prevent such life-threatening conditions such as heatstroke and heart attack. In November 2006 the West Thurston Administration Council, consisting of Fire Districts 1 (Rochester/Grand Mound), 5 (Black Lake), 9 (McLane), and 11 (Littlerock), budgeted $15,000 to create West Thurston Fire Support. Chaplain Thom Jenrette found an Aid Unit at the Orting Fire Department and encouraged them to donate it to be used as our rehab unit.
On April 3, 2007 the first West Thurston Development Team meeting was held. This group was charged with the task of developing policies, procedures, and mandatory training needed for West Thurston Fire Support. They donated and purchased items and spent time cleaning, organizing and stocking the Fire Support unit. Assistant Chief Ken Frasl and Firefighter Randy Sanchez installed shelves, bolted down the freezer and microwave, and permanently installed stairs to allow easy entry and exit from the unit. Deputy Chief Gary Kerker was instrumental in setting up its electrical and water tank system and ensuring it was ready for emergency responses. Fire Support members participated in numerous training sessions including Health Care Provider, NIMS, EVAP, and orientation to rehab procedures and equipment.
Gone are the days when rehab was simply handing out water and granola bars to firefighters … today it involves so much more:
- Rest – a “time out” to help firefighters stabilize their vital signs
- Rehydration – replacing lost fluids and plasma volumes
- Rx – medical monitoring and treatment
- Restoration – core temperature stabilization through “active cooling” (forearm immersion)
- Relief – from extreme climatic conditions
- Refueling – replenishing calories and electrolytes
Fire Support members have been called out on several structure fires and participated in many live fire “practice burns.” Part of our responsibility is to educate the firefighters themselves as to the role of rehab and what they can expect during their time with us. For instance, part of the rest they require means that they are not to be sitting looking at the fire or visiting with family members while in Rehab. We ask them to remove their bunker gear not only to prevent contamination of our chairs but also to promote cooling. Rehab is a recognized ITAC entity. When used properly, fire personnel will be sent to Rehab on a rotating basis and are not to leave without the approval of Fire Support personnel. Proper Rehab can and will protect firefighters’ health and safety and ultimately maximize their cumulative work times!