In the northern part of the county, shared services are often common. The smaller townships that make up the county to the north eastern part of Muskegon County like Cedar Creek, Holton, Ravenna and others rely on each other for services that the larger municipalities have for themselves. One of the key shared services for the smaller areas is fire and rescue and mutual assist isn't only the norm, it's how it has to get done due to the lower density of population, the lack of tax base to fund full time staff's at a fire department and the reliance of volunteers and those with skills to help make necessities a reality.
One thing the northern parts of the county is not scarce on is travelers. M-120 and Maple Island Road are major passages connecting Muskegon County to all surrounding areas and as you can imagine, with the amount of traffic, open spaces and fairly high speeds...accidents happen and the area fire and rescue teams need to be equally equipped and ready to roll no matter the situation they come across. We've featured some of the work that the area departments have done in the past with training or when a new truck has come in to service, but a visit to the Holton FD is a first.
The Holton Fire Department is comprised of mostly volunteers. One minute working at the "day job", the next they are in the car an on the way to an emergent situation. Making sure that they have the equipment needed is a matter of not only efficiency, it's life or death. Their current "jaws of life" apparatus, as you'll see, while still completely functional is nearing it's end of life and remarkably cumbersome to use. Ready for the mutual assist part? Cedar Creek Township is serviced by Holton, Dalton and Muskegon Township for fire service since they don't have their own. Linda Aerts is the Cedar Creek Supervisor and while she's not the fire fighter, she's an exceptional grant writer, so....let's get to mutual assisting.
Linda wrote the grant to replace an old pneumatic jaws of life tool with a new, battery operated light as a feather monster of a snipper called the E-Force Extractor Tool. What took 7.5 minutes in the video we shot to set up and deploy in the older apparatus, was completed in seconds with the replacement that came from AAA Automobile Club Group offering some help to update necessary equipment for a smaller FD like Holton. Talk about the difference between life and death.
We met up for a demonstration of the new tool and some discussion about how these smaller municipalities work to get things done...together in Muskegon county. Linda Aerts is with us as is Former Fire Chief Bob Grabinski, Holton Fire Chief Ted Hawk is here too. There's a quick blip in the video and at the end, a longer display of just how dramatic of an improvement this device is. Take a look.
What are the takeaway's here? Well, let's hope you don't get in an accident anywhere. But should it happen in the northern part of the county, the tools are updated and you're in good hands. A small department like Holton trains, practices and follows all the same practices and procedures that others do. Chief Ted Hawk and crew are dedicated professionals who know their stuff. Next, while so many others are scratching their heads wondering about employee shortages and whatever, there's a message coming to you here. Work together. Find your strengths and rely on your neighbors. As our demo wrapped up, some were talking about just how disconnected this entire county is...why? Well, we just don't hear what's going on. Now, you have and you've also been shown by example that smaller isn't exactly bad....it just takes some understanding about where to put the key players to make sure all the needs are met. Cedar Creek and Holton seem to have managed to do just right on this one. Take a note.