Protect Hopewell Valley: How and why did you decide to volunteer?
Audra Tunison: It’s something I always wanted to do. I had to call 911 for my husband six or seven years ago. We thought he had appendicitis in the middle of the night, and I was so glad someone could come out and help us. I was so grateful – here were people getting up at 2:30 in the morning, out of their beds, to come and help us. I thought I should do this, too.
PHV: Why do you stick with it?
AT: It’s a good bunch of people, and you know your community needs you. It feels good to help.
PHV: Describe your most memorable moment as a volunteer
AT: About two years ago, there was a car accident. The driver, a young person in his 20s, was entrapped – he had hit a tree, and the entire front dash came down on his legs. I was the only one who could fit in the back seat of the car, as there was a lot of damage in back. I’m small, so I could squeeze in there. I climbed in behind him to hold his head and neck stable, and I sat in there for an hour while the firefighters cut the car apart around us. We were covered with a tarp to keep the glass off of us, and I kept talking to him, making sure he was still with me, and letting him know what was going on. We kept hearing the glass break, and the cutting tools are very loud. It was nerve wracking. The tools are very powerful, and they are right around you. I was worried about his leg – I didn’t know what condition it would be in because we couldn’t see it. But you have to be calm for the person, who have to explain things and let them know what is going on. You are their lifeline. He was injured, but recovered and is fine.
PHV: What has surprised you about volunteering as an EMT?
AT: There’s more training than I thought, which is good! We constantly train so we can be good at what we do. We have people come in to the firehouse and review things with us, and give us updates on the newest thinking about things like what treatments to use, and the best way to get people out of vehicles, and using backboards. Because we are part of the (Hopewell) fire department, we train with them. We cut up old cars, working as a team, and learn how to get someone safely out. We work together.
PHV: Any advice for those interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter/EMT?
AT: It’s really great, because it makes you feel like you’re actually doing something for your neighbors when you can go and help someone who really needs somebody to come. And it’s good for my kids to see me contributing back to the community. I like that we have a very family atmosphere at the firehouse. We all give back to the community. We help our neighbors.