Volunteer EMTs


Back in 1975, the state of Georgia declared that each county in the state must have an ambulance service, whether the workers were volunteers or paid.

About 40 of us Fayette Countians felt the call to serve and in the case of those getting called out during the day meant locking up their place of business and heading to a storage garage which at one time was used to store a fire truck.

We had to go to emergency medical training school for six months. We used Russell Edmondson’s Civil Defense old car to get us to the school in Clayton County.

One of the first classes was on birthing a baby, and it’s a good thing all of us had known each for years or it would have been a highly embarrassing moment.

Because the men in my class were married and could leave their children in the evening to go over classes and practice CPR, they all came to my house as I was not married. My son, who is now in his mid-50s, will tell you that sometimes when falling asleep he can still hear my class practicing in his living room saying, “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

The state gave each county a free ambulance depending on its size and population and Fayette County received two ambulances. Fayette County had to stock them with the proper supplies.

We took one for Fayetteville and one went to Peachtree City.

We set the shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Each of us volunteers served for one week a month. We felt that three of us should be on each shift, one to drive and two in the back.

We had to buy our own uniform and our own basic supplies, such as a stethoscope, and we decided our uniform should be royal blue pants, a white shirt of some kind, and the standard “doctor looking” white jacket with a Fayette County patch sewn on the left sleeve. I have placed mine in a box in the Justice Center on the back left wall, first floor. I have also listed all the names of these volunteers, as I don’t want them to ever be forgotten.

Again, many of those “working” as an EMT during the day had to just lock up their place of business and head to wherever the ambulance was parked. Yes, that location changed several times during those volunteer years.

In my case, working during the day to feed my family, I served on the night shift. Back in the 1970s I thought nothing of running out of the house at 2 a.m., zipping off to hopefully save someone’s life, making sure the door was locked, and head for the ambulance. These days, I would probably have my children taken away from me for doing that.

Depending on where the call came from, the person living closest to that point just drove there in their car and one of the remaining 2 would drive the ambulance.

I am only speaking from Fayetteville’s point of view, Peachtree City had their own policies, I’m sure.

More next week.