The Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department will host a first responder class.
The fire department has a shortage of firefighters and first responders.
"Our members are down 50 percent," Training Officer Walt Goebel said. "We're down to 13 members."
Assistant Chief Tod Haring also spoke of the decline in members.
"We are pretty low on members," he said. "I don't know if it's an economy thing, or if it's because of the time it takes to do the classes, but we can certainly use some new members."
Haring explained how to become a member.
"To be a member, you have to apply with the department," he said. "You would need to supply us with a background check and a doctor's release. You go through a six-month trial period and then are voted on as a permanent member or removed from the department."
Goebel and Haring explained the fire department is trying to raise its standards and bring members up to another level.
"I just want the community to know that we're gong to try and be a leader in the area," Haring said. "We really want to step up the training for us and the surrounding departments. We're trying to really get into the training to keep the community safe."
Goebel said the volunteer fire department does more than put out fires.
"We not only do fires," Goebel said, "but we respond to car crashes, tree falls and medical emergencies."
Goebel said some of their members only work the fires, while others only work the medical situations.
"We're opening these classes up to the public, so the more people we can get the better," Goebel said. "Great Dane (Trailers) and other local businesses use first responders."
The class will teach on splinting, spinal mobilization, reading basic vital signs such as pulse and respiration, CPR, autism, weather emergencies and how to care for a patient involved in a trauma situation such as a fall or car crash, among other things.
"In the past few years, the fire department runs on the majority of medical runs," Haring said. "If we get there before trans care, we need to know the basics before they get on the scene."
The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department has a new firehouse, new training facility and a new fire engine.
"We're putting on these classes because we have a new firehouse and a new fire engine that we paid for ourselves," Goebel said. "We want people to know we are using these facilities to help the township and surrounding area. We didn't just spend the money for them not to be used."
Classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as some Saturdays. The first class will be on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the new firehouse and training center, 10080 N. Harmony Hickory St., Harmony.
Classes are open to anyone from any county, 18-older.
At the end of the classes, in December, the participants will take a practical or hands-on exam. If they pass, they can move on to the written exam. If participants pass both, they will receive a state certification that will be good for two years. The certification can be renewed after two years with continuing education.
For those who have the certification, they are able to respond in any medical emergency.
"It's important to take this class to learn the basics of how to help people when they have medical emergencies," Goebel said. "This will give us more people to go out and assist in emergencies."
The cost of the class including the book is $200. There will be a $50 discount for anyone with his or her own book. All fees must be paid before the first class.
In January, the fire department will also be having a four-month class to train potential firefighters. The class is free, but an active member of a fire department must sponsor those participating. If those participating pass several tests, they will be recognized as professional firefighters by the state.
To register for the first responder class or to ask questions, contact Goebel at 812-878-2482.