Kalida EMS and Fire volunteer Dick Schulte - Putnam Sentinel
Dick Schulte amid the fire and EMS vehicles he's used to help save lives for over four decades. (Putnam Sentinel)

KALIDA — First responders - those men and women who always act whenever there is a fire, medical event, or safety issue in their community - are being honored in the State of Ohio this week. April 29 - May 5 of this year has been designated as the ‘Week of Appreciation’ for Ohio’s first responders.

Locally, The ADAMHS Board, along with other Boards in the region, worked with the Toledo Mud Hens to sponsor a Night of Appreciation. The special event takes place tomorrow night, May 2, for first responders and their families. The ADAMHS Boards are purchasing the tickets to the game for first responders on this night, and a reduced rate is available for first responders for any Mud Hens home game throughout the month of May.

Along with the Putnam County Health Dept.,the ADAMHS Board is also helping to sponsor Narcan training for businesses and first responders. And the Board purchased tokens of appreciation for area first responders which will be distributed throughout the week.

Beyond expressing appreciation, the Sentinel sought to better understand what it means to be a first responder in Putnam County. We spoke with long time Kalida Fire and

See Schulte/A2

EMS volunteer Dick Schulte to learn more about his experiences, and what motivates him to keep serving his community.

A volunteer with the department since 1974, and a Kalida volunteer firefighter since 1971, when asked first joining the two departments, Mr. Schulte indicated it was something he’d always wanted to do. And, that he even moved into to town for the chance, saying, “That was a goal. Being a country boy, I didn’t know if that was ever going to materialize. But, that was the goal.”

“Being there to help somebody else, you know,” he continues, expressing a desire to help his community. “Do what you can do. Whether it’s EMS, whether it’s the fire department, somebody wants some help no matter if it’s fire, flood, heavy rescue. There’s always somebody looking for help. It’s a community thing.”

There were 25 Kalida EMS volunteers when Mr. Schulte first joined. Now, there are 10, and a few more is always appreciated. When asked what those who may be thinking of joining should expect, he says, “It’s still a lot of training. We have more nursing home calls, and elderly people. Whether they fall in the kitchen, fall going the bathroom, it’s still probably the elderly that you’re dealing with the biggest share of the time.”

“That’s as far as EMS. With the fire department, we still have our fires, but there’s probably more training than we have fires. But, with the changes on everything, you need to stay up on the training. It’s things like truck checks. We just checked it two weeks ago, and it will get checked two weeks later. To make sure that when the pager goes, we go. That we’re ready to go.”

So, apart from the runs themselves, continual training and keeping the equipment ready for whenever a call may come is the bulk of the regular tasks for EMS and fire volunteers. But, that’s not the motivation. The desire to help your community is what a volunteer needs.

“It’s not all glory,” Mr. Schulte says. “It’s glory with what you set your mind at, what you can help people at…There’s what you call good runs, and then there’s run-of-the-mill runs, so to speak…There are some runs that really stick with you. I guess I’ll probably never forget them. At least you go. Maybe you don’t get a good outcome, but you try. You do what you can do to make the outcome better.”

Today, there’s more support for volunteers in these situations as well. When the worst happens, a number of people show up, including those who are there to provide mental health care for first responders still processing what happened.

“We’ve got people that come-in during the debriefing,” Mr. Schulte says. “We’ll help people out, trying to get past the bad run…You aren’t always going to get that little baby. Which is a very tough run, no matter what. There, it normally has to do with choking or breathing.”

In such situations, it was noted, time is a precious thing and every second counts. “Right,” Mr. Schulte agreed, and then offered a reminder on the importance of moving over to the side of the road whenever flashing lights from emergency vehicles come into view while driving.

“Something the community could do much better is signage,” he continues. “House number signs, road signs - because if you can’t find a place, you aren’t going to do anybody any good…Street signs, road signs, house numbers, to me it’s’ very important.”

“Another thing that’s very important is getting down into the school, and teaching the younger kids. Because things really seem to stick with the younger kids, whether smoke detectors, [playing with] matches. They have a good thing with Farm Safety. It’s very good for the younger kids. If they remember just one point, it’s well worth it.”

“Hopefully, the individuals coming out of school see it as more than just graduating. I mean, there’s a community back home when you get out of college, someplace, waiting for them to pick up and do a little volunteerism. And, it doesn’t have to be the fire department, EMS, you can go work at the local church, park, or what have you. There’s always volunteerism. Somebody needs to pick it up, and keep it going.”