Fire response

Attacking the Blaze

Local fire and ambulance companies are in desperate need of volunteers to continue their life-saving efforts.

“If you live in any community and don’t know of the shortages of first responders, stop by your local station and ask,” said Bryan Phelps, chief of the Coudersport Fire Department, in a recent Facebook post. “Every station and department in the region and across the state are struggling to answer calls for service. Most people don’t even understand how they are funded or what’s needed to become a member and help.”

Some emergency response trainings coming up in Potter County are free if signing up through a volunteer agency, and most departments provide gear and equipment for free.

Hybrid EMT training — Thursday, Oct. 21, 6-10 p.m. via Zoom and in-person sessions 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 20-21, Dec. 18-19 and Jan. 15-16 at Coudersport Ambulance Service. Program for future EMS personnel or anyone who responds to emergencies. After completion, participants are eligible to take exams for national and state EMT certification. Register at

Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) advanced training — Nov. 6 and 7, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. both days at the Roulette Fire Department. Instructor Jim Misstishin will cover basic RIT team exercises including size-up, new techniques for locating and removing trapped and injured firefighters, as well as current RIT developments. There’s no cost for the course. Contact the Potter County Department of Emergency Services at 20 Mockingbird Lane, Coudersport or call 814-274-8900.

Emergency vehicle drivers training — Nov. 20-21, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. at Austin Fire Department, instructor David Braun. Must be 18 or older and have a valid PA driver’s license. Bring your own vehicle or make arrangements with Austin Fire Department to use one. Class is limited to 15 people. Pre-register by Nov. 1 with the Potter County Department of Emergency Services at 20 Mockingbird Lane, Coudersport or call 814-274-8900.

Emergency Medical Responder course — Nov. 1-Dec. 23 at the Potter County Education Council’s Port Allegany office. Offered through the Workforce Development Division of the Northern PA Regional College (NPRC). Register by Oct. 22 by calling 844-350-7729 or emailing

On the Coudersport fire department’s Facebook, Phelps said a training held recently at the station had 12 participants from Potter and McKean counties. He added that help is needed in every area, including fire police (traffic control), pump operators, ambulance drivers, EMTs, firefighters, fundraising and housekeeping.

“Every little bit helps, for even when a call is over and units return to the station, there may be hours of work to place apparatus back and ready for service,” said Phelps’ post.

He continued, “First responders in this county are saving taxpayers millions of dollars a year in all 10 districts in this beautiful county. Every department or station has memberships or envelope drives for direct financial support if you are unable to help out physically.”

For information on how to volunteer with your local fire or ambulance service, contact a chief, other department member or the Potter County Emergency Services department at 814-274-8900 to be put in touch with a local representative.

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