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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Knapp set to train emergency volunteers

  • Expanded opportunities for youth to train in emergency services are being facilitated in Pike County. Commissioner Chairman Richard Caridi lauded these efforts, noting that lack of volunteers is felt by each emergency response company, which could become reach a crisis level. Timothy Knapp was introduced at the March 5...
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  •  Expanded opportunities for youth to train in emergency services are being facilitated in Pike County. Commissioner Chairman Richard Caridi lauded these efforts, noting that lack of volunteers is felt by each emergency response company, which could become reach a crisis level.
        Timothy Knapp was introduced at the March 5th County Commissioners' meeting as the new Training Director at the Pike County Training Center in Lords Valley.
        The facility, which houses 9-1-1 communications, County Emergency Management offices and a place for fire, EMS and other emergency agency personnel to train, opened in June of 2012.
        George Boedeker, who made the introduction, served as the training director until being named Emergency Management Coordinator upon the retirement of Roger Maltby on December 31. Knapp is Assistant Chief at Forest Volunteer Fire Department in Kimbles, where he has been a member for nearly 26 years.
       Knapp was working at the Training Center as a part-time assistant trainer.
       He is also involved with the highly successful Emergency Responder Club at Wallenpaupack Area High School. Boedeker said that a similar club is being planned at Delaware Valley High School starting with the 2014-15 school year.
       "We'll hit the ground running," said Knapp. "We hope we will make some changes in the community and get people involved."
        Commissioner Matthew Osterberg stated it is crucial to reach out to the high schools.  Knapp said they have implemented a "Junior Weekend" in April. The first one was held in 2013, with 62 young people attending the Pike County Training Center. Numerous fire and EMS companies participated, giving the youth intense, hands-on instruction, from vehicle rescue to firing a hose.
       Over the winter they had another junior event with 54 youth attending. Ice rescue training was highlighted. Knapp said that their goal is to have 80 youth participate at the next event, anticipated some time in April.
        He later said in an interview that the Training Center has been extremely busy and successful, scheduling training sessions with emergency response companies from Pike County and beyond. Other departments also make use of the classrooms, including Department of Corrections and Probation.
        Caridi said he and former Commissioner Harry Forbes worked on this (Forbes, who is now the northeast regional representative for Governor Corbett, was in attendance for other business).  Each of the fire companies rely on volunteers, Caridi said, and many times the Communications Center is calling out other companies to assemble enough manpower. A task force was proposed to enhance volunteerism, working in conjunction with Senator Lisa Baker.
       Senator Baker, who also attended the Commissioners' session, added that the task force is in place on the state level, aimed at recruitment and retention of volunteers. She noted that without emergency response volunteers, the added expense to Pennsylvania taxpayers to provide their services equates to approximately $6 billion.
    Page 2 of 2 -    The Task Force is looking at tax credits and other incentives for volunteers, including support for such programs as the live-in dormitory being prepared at the Forest Volunteer Fire Station.
       She said the Task Force is working on funding for county 9-1-1 enhancements, providing the advanced technology now available.
       On the agenda that morning, the Commissioners approved the hiring of Knapp as the full time Operations Training Director/Facility Director, effective March 3rd. The annual pay was set at $39,000.
       In addition, a motion was passed to hire Kate Larkin and Nicole Fabian as full time Dispatchers for the Communications Center, starting March 12. These are replacement positions. Pay was set at $11.50/hour.
       Caridi commented that quite an investment is made when they hire full-time 9-1-1 dispatchers. They are each required to have six months of in-house training. He said this is evidence of the high degree of stress associated with the position/ "Not everyone can do it," he said. The dispatchers are on the front lines receiving calls of distress and must determine what companies to dispatch to an emergency. "This all ties in to protecting the community,' Caridi said.

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