MORRISONVILLE - There's one month a year the nation calls on people to volunteer time to help out in their communities. And, though April is four months away, one local emergency service provider says there's no time like the present to lend a hand.
Justin K. Burl, chief officer for the Morrisonville Rescue Squad, said his department is facing the same problem many volunteer fire departments and emergency service providers are facing - dwindling membership. Since assuming his position as squad chief one year ago, Burl said he's seen the number of volunteers at the lowest it's been in years.
"We currently have 30 volunteers, which is down from recent years," said Burl.
Though 30 may sound like a sufficient number, said Burl, it can be a roll of the dice how many volunteers are available for a call. It depends on the time of day, given everyone's varying work schedules, he said.
Ideally, Burl said he'd like to see the squad's roster be bolstered to 45, which is the number other squads consider a "full roster." That number is also one departments didn't seem to have trouble filling years ago.
"It used to be you'd have so many people knocking on your door to join, you had to start limiting them," said Burl, who is also a member of the Morrisonville Volunteer Fire Department, where he said numbers are also down. "Now, it's kind of the other way around where we're knocking on people's doors trying to get people to volunteer."
In his opinion, Burl said it's a combination of reasons there are less volunteers today.
"The standards for training for firefighters and EMS have gone up dramatically, so that could be part of it for some people," said Burl. "It could also be because lifestyles have changed from years ago. There are more families where both the mom and dad are working, which cuts into time they would be volunteering."