The Scandinavia First Responders have been disbanded.
As of Jan. 1, 2014, the town and village of Scandinavia will no longer be served by First Responders.
Discontinuing the volunteer organization was the unanimous decision of the town and village boards of Scandinavia.
“We have come to the conclusion that it’s no longer feasible to continue to fund the Scandinavia First Responders, as it’s now organized,” said Town Chairman Gary Marx.
“There are many factors that have led to this decision, but primarily, the lack of participation from residents in both the village and town is the major reason for this decision,” Marx said. “Without some local commitment, it does not make sense to have this organization.”
“We do not have enough volunteers in the town and the village to conduct First Responders,” said Village President David Mork.
“We want to keep it going,” Mork added. “There just isn’t a whole lot of interest.”
Currently, only one of the active First Responders lives in the coverage area, which includes the town and village of Scandinavia.
To fill the roster, certified First Responders come from outlying areas, such as Ogdensburg and Iola. These volunteers are also members of the Northwest First Responders, who respond to emergencies in the Iola and Ogdensburg area.
According to Marx, having volunteers from nearby areas is not the solution.
“We appreciate what they have been doing, but we really need volunteers who are close to where things are happening,” Marx said.
“It is just too hard to have coverage when they live so far away,” Mork said. “The ambulance gets there first, so they’re not really First Responders.”
Mork noted that cost is not an issue. The 2013 budget was around $6,800, which mostly covered the cost of equipment.
The problem was getting volunteers and having someone in charge of meetings and budgeting.
“We have tried to get other people involved,” Marx said. “Until we get some local participants, we won’t be funding the Scandinavia First Responders.”
Anyone who wants to volunteer for the Scandinavia First Responders should contact Mork at 715-467-2688 or Marx at 715-467-2273.
“They won’t give us a reason,” said Paula Durrant, who has served as a First Responder for the past 20 years. “They just shut it down.”
According to Durrant, there are currently eight volunteers on the Scandinavia First Responders. She became a volunteer when she lived in the Scandinavia area before moving to Ogdensburg.
“We aren’t in it for the money,” Durrant said. “We enjoy what we’re doing, and we just want to help people.”
“People will not be allowed to go on calls after Jan. 1, and the equipment is being collected,” said Eric Kluever, former captain of the Scandinavia First Responders. “Right now, they’re definitely stopping what was in place.”
Since he went on medical leave in April, Kluever has been unable to help with the First Responders.
Recently, the town and village asked him to compile a list of current inventory and to sign off on the organization’s checking account.
“I was told they were suspending the First Responders at this time, and they would be trying to re-establish it with more local people,” Kluever said.
“This has been very tough on me because I hate to see it happen,” he added. “It’s not a good situation.”
Kluever believes it is important to have First Responders because they can stabilize the situation prior to the arrival of an ambulance.
A certified First Responder is a person who has completed a course and received certification in providing pre-hospital care for medical emergencies.
First Responder courses cover cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator usage, spinal and bone fracture immobilization, oxygen and, in some cases, emergency childbirth as well as advanced first aid.