Banks County News
May 2, 2001
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
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.
Banks County News
May 2, 2001
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
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.