Banks County Opinions...

May 2, 2001

By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
May 2, 2001

Which boots?
As I started to get ready for my recent day trip to Tallulah Gorge early one morning, I found myself with an unexpected dilemma. Which boots do I wear?
It had seemed a good idea when I had bought the two pairs, but now I had to figure out which would be the pair to take me to the floor of the gorge.
Hmm The Dexters were over-the-ankle; the Nikes were below the ankle.
Hmm Both had great tread.
I decided it was easier to choose my hiking clothes first. Hmm Loose pants or tight pants. Both had pros and cons. Loose pants gave easy movement, but then there was the possibility of things crawling up my legs. Stretch pants that fit tight at the ankles would prevent that possibility, but movement would be a bit more restrictive. After trying both on, I went with the stretch. Preventing creepy-crawly things from access to my legs seemed more important.
Layers. The ranger, Christy Hagan, said to wear layers that could be shed as the body heated. OK. Hmm Sleeveless, short-sleeved and long-sleeved. Not a problem. That was easy.
Now, back to the boots. I tried on the Dexters. The hill behind the house is pretty steep. That would be a good trial for them. So, I hiked up and down a few times. They were totally comfortable. No binding at the ankle, good support. Next, the Nikes. They, too, were comfortable and gave a bit more freedom for ankle movement.
I couldn't decide. Up and down the hill I went. Back and forth between pairs. This was getting me nowhere.
HmmBeing unable to decide, I chose to gamble. I flipped a coin. Heads the Nikes; tails Dexes. It came up heads.
Hmm Should I make this two out of three? No, no more time left. I had just spent more time figuring out which pair to wear than it took me to buy them. I put on the Nikes.
I gathered up my gear. My camera, zoom and wide-angle lenses, teleconverter, flash, battery pack and extra batteries and a few roles of film. Then packed my lunch, water
As I picked up my backpack and fanny pack, I noticed that it seemed to weigh a bit more than I had anticipated. "Dang, this stuff is a bit heavy," I told myself. Maybe I was taking too much. "Naw", I told myself. "I've carried more weight than this around 18 holes of golf during tournaments and remember the Olympics? That 60 pounds of gear, including the 40-pound 600-millimeter lens, you lugged around for a week?" Of course, what I didn't remind myself of, was that that was several years ago.
Age seldom crosses my mind. I have pulled up the drawbridge to prevent age-related attacks of sensibility.
Undaunted, I loaded my car and was on my way. The sun was bright, the morning air cool. I was feeling pretty good about it all. I was going to make it.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.



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Letter to the Editor

The Banks County News
May 2, 2001

Believes emergency personnel deserve salary increase
I am writing this article on behalf of all emergency personnel in the county. The question has come up many times about raising emergency personnel pay in the county. Well, I strongly support the recommendation. Persons involved in emergency services are very underpaid. I, too, am involved in such services and love the field very much, as do many of the personnel involved. We chose this career for the love of people, their well-being and our communities. Saving a life or even bettering one for an individual is very rewarding, however, by no means easy. Emergency personnel put their lives on the line every day. When a firefighter leaves his home to save someone else's, he never knows if he will return back to his family. When EMTs and paramedics board their ambulance, they, too, are never guaranteed a return. When law enforcement officers respond to a call, they are never guaranteed to return to their families. Anyone in the emergency field knows this guarantee can never be, however, they continue on with their hearts. To give a better understanding, let me say this:
When a firefighter responds to any fire, he is coming against one of man's most feared elements, a raging inferno. The temperatures, in some cases, go well above 2000 degrees F. Never hesitating for a moment, the firefighter knows this, but is still willing to give his or her life in order to save someone or something for someone else with no questions or complaints.
When an EMT/paramedic boards an ambulance, he, too, stands at risk. Patient care is the most important thing for them. They put their lives on the line in means of becoming exposed to infectious diseases, coming into unsafe environments such as domestic disputes, car accidents and emotionally unstable patients.
When a law officer responds, he, too, is at risk of being shot down, being permanently disabled, high speed chases, etc.
911 dispatchers are, too, a major part of the emergency services. They are the first to come in contact with the emergency situation at hand. When they receive a call, they first must try and stabilize the situation and then make the decision on the best response for the emergency. While waiting for the emergency personnel to arrive and take over the scene, they must give medical and emotional aid to the caller. This can become very stressful. It is hard to try and help a situation without actually being present at it.
There is never enough protection for a person in any of the above fields, however, we, as emergency officials, know this, but respond to the call of duty anyway. The pay for these positions is very weak and I feel as though these positions should be the ones we compensate the most. A man can make millions playing ball, singing a song or making an impact statement. A person who is out there risking his life to save another is the lowest paid.
An average fireman makes $22,857, an EMT makes an average of $19,500, a paramedic makes an average of $24,000, and a law officer makes an average of $23,000, if they are lucky to do so.
Now, I ask, what in the world are we as citizens thinking? I am not saying that we should make millions, but I am saying that emergency personnel should get paid for their services more so than other positions. I think it is safe to say we all have no regrets for choosing the field we have and the love we have for it. What I am saying is emergency personnel are very underpaid for the potential life-threatening careers they have chosen.
I have heard people speak negatively on the possibility of emergency personnel getting the pay they deserve, however, everyone needs to remember that employees can always find better pay somewhere else. So where would this leave Banks County Emergency services? It would leave us very helpless. We cannot ask someone to cover the above duties for nothing, due to the fact that they take such a risk with their lives and they lose a lot of time and attention from their families.
Now that I have shined a light on this situation, let me end by saying this:
I am proud to be a part of the emergency services in Banks County and am very honored to be able to give to my community. Banks County Emergency Services have indeed come a long way and for this I commend Chief Perry Dalton and others in the administration for their time in seeing that we all do our job to the absolute best and safest possible. The newest program is the bringing in of paid firemen and was very much needed. It is nice to know that when we are all away at our public jobs our homes and properties are protected to the fullest. We also have access to some of the most up-to-date and intense training which is very much a part of our jobs as well and it too is becoming very successful. The personnel in our EMS department carry themselves beyond the call of duty. They, too, are required to take on intense training as well as fire department training which has become very useful and much appreciated.
The sheriff's department has increased personnel and updated equipment which was very much needed and appreciated. I would like to thank Sheriff Charles Chapman for seeking this out and becoming successful. Our officers go through a great deal of training and Sheriff Chapman sees that they stay up to code with all new issues. Last, but not least, our 911 Center is very much a part of emergency services. Without them it would be hard for us to respond in a rapid and effective manner. I would like thank Mrs. Lisa McClure for an outstanding crew. All of our 911 dispatchers do an excellent job in dealing with the emotional distress of our callers and they take exceptional care of our responding personnel. They, too, are trained in patient care and must give it verbally until our arrival. All dispatchers are very cooperative, informative and very accurate in getting the best possible care to our public. This is another department that is underpaid as well. I have seen what our dispatchers go through while receiving emergency calls and it is very stressful. However, they handle their duties as if they were personally on the emergency scenes.
We have persons in our counties who are volunteers in the fire department, search and rescue, victim extrication, first responder, etc. These persons take time from their families and personal life to deliver emergency care to our community. I would like to personally thank them as well. After all, before we received paid personnel on the fire department, all services were strictly volunteer from our public. Banks County citizens should be very proud of their community because, first of all, our community has grown a great deal and so has the need for all the above services. This thanks goes out to our commissioners Ken Brady, Pat Westmoreland, and Ernest Rogers. These gentlemen come out to our training and even our emergency situations to assist families and show their very much appreciated support. Most of all, thanks to our wonderful county citizens for letting us gain all that we have. You are the most important people of all.
When it comes to determining what an appropriate salary is for the above positions, we all should look at what their duties consist of before making a decision. It is called stepping into someone else's shoes. These persons are not asking for millions of dollars, they are just asking for a way to make a living for their families in doing something they truly love. So, I ask what is the value of emergency services to us as citizens. Going back to my earlier statement of getting paid to play ball or etc. I stressed that point for a reason. Everyone supports the decision of giving whatever amount of money needed to those persons just because they are representing our state in athletics or we pay whatever for our favorite CD in which the singer benefits from greatly. However, for the persons who answer the call of duty in saving homes and lives are the absolute least consider for a decent salary. I had much rather see them compensated for their services. These persons are the true heroes and stars in my book. Without these departments and personnel, some of us who have been involved with emergency and life-threatening situations know that without them they could no longer tell their spouses they love them, could have never seen their children grow old, nor could they continue to have their homes in which they share with the people they love. I ask of everyone countywide and statewide to take in consideration the above information and know that these positions are not just considered a job to us. We take extreme pride in what we do and accomplish. I have always said it takes special persons to do these jobs and I consider my ability to carry out these duties a gift from God! He is the one who has given us the ability to be able to act in the line of duty. Not everyone can do the things emergency personnel are required to do, only a few chosen ones and to me that is our gift and I would like to thank the good Lord above for such a wonderful ability.
To all emergency personnel in Banks County, I would like to thank you all for what you do and have done. It has been and is a great honor to work with you all. May you all walk in the grace of God when you are called for duty and may he continue to give you all the courage and the strength needed to carry out all duties to the fullest.
Barbara White
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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