More changes for emergency response could be right around the corner in Stone County. Last month, we told you about a reduction in ambulance service there. Now, the Wiggins Fire Department could be cutting back on its response outside of city limits. If that happens, it would be up to volunteers to pick up the slack.
When extra help is needed in Stone County, Wiggins Fire Department is there for now. That could all change if a request by the city isn't met. Right now, the county provides $22,000 annually to the city to help fund services from the fire department.
The city has requested additional funds, but if they don't come through, Fire Chief Jody Hatten said his department may not be able to afford the expense of responding outside of city limits. That's where volunteers step in.
Thomas Muffler is the district Fire Chief for the South Central Fire District in Stone County. He said volunteer fire departments aren't constantly responding to emergencies.
"But when it does happen we need people to be ready to respond," said Muffler.
According to Muffler, there aren't enough volunteers to respond to everything right now. He's asking for help from the community. And he made a point to stress that it's not just a man's game.
Nikole Riggins started volunteering after her son got her interested.
"Everything that you learn here, every little step that you make, it's something that's bettering the community. It's something that's needed," said Riggins.
Riggins hopes people will see how important volunteering is. So does Dusty Rhodes. He has been in the volunteer service for years.
"I try to get people to think about what it would be like if they didn't have someone there to help them," said Rhodes.
Rhodes hopes people will help fill the needs of the fire department. People like Collin O'Neal who showed up at the McHenry station to find out more.
"God put us on Earth to help each other. Why not follow the words?" said O'Neal.
According to Muffler, that's the message he's trying to get across.
"That's the main thing. Having people that care enough for their community to come out and just kind of help their fellow man," said Muffler.
To keep up with Muffler's volunteer fire station, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mchenry.vfd
A meeting is scheduled Tuesday between city and county officials to discuss the request.