How volunteer firefighters battle traumatic incidents

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Working scenes like the fatal fire in Windthorst is never easy for volunteers, and with no pay, volunteer firefighters rushed to the scene and put their lives in danger in hopes of quickly putting out that massive fire.

Volunteers said the path is not for everyone, and they said people have to be born with something special—the need to save lives.

Brent Hemmi has served with the Scotland Volunteer Fire Department for a little more than five years and said seeing his father take on the role of a lifesaver is what made him want to join.

“I grew up watching him and hearing about him fighting fire stories and always loved listening to it and watching him do it and thought it would be a fun thing to do helping out the community, I just really do enjoy it,” Scotland Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Brent Hemmi said.

As anyone can imagine, it’s not easy putting your life on the line to save others, but Hemmi said that’s what volunteering is all about.

“I mean you pass all these other vehicles running away from it and here we are diving into it, we do it to help others I guess,” Hemmi said.

Diving into it, such as rolling up on a fatal accident or fatal fire, regardless Hemmi said they do what they are trained to do and that’s to keep the community safe, no matter what the impact might be.

“You try to forget a few things but there are some images in your head that you’ll never get out,” Hemmi said.

That’s why Dale Scheffe and other volunteers at Windthorst Volunteer Fire Department have started a “debriefing” program to help cope with death that surrounds these volunteers all the time.

“There’s a group of them from around the area that, all you got to do is call and they’ll sit down and they’re all people that have dealt with it themselves and even if you’re just there to listen, it lets you know that you’re not alone,” Windthorst Fire Chief Dale Scheffe said.

This is something that’s crucial when these volunteers never know when an incident will hit far too close to home.

“You know with such a small town here, you know everybody almost and just here about a month ago we had a really bad one that hit close to home and you just got to deal with it and you go about your day, I don’t know, it gets pretty tough sometimes,” Hemmi said.

Not tough enough though, especially with support to go on protecting their community, no matter what.

Hemmi said when it comes to surrounding departments, they’re all one big family, which really can help when it comes to traumatic events.

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