Harpersville Fire increases service, personnel

Whether it is a situation in which a person must be rescued by rope, the need to find someone trapped in a burning house or a quick response to a heart attack victim, the Harpersville Fire Department is ready with its latest additions of personnel, equipment and a new ambulance.

Fire Chief Shane Phillips said his department is now state licensed as an Advanced Cardiac Life Support Unit.

Phillips reports the department now had nine paid personnel including paramedics Shaun Barr and Wade Holley.

Deputy Chief Max Roper reports that all paid personnel is at emergency medical technician or paramedic status.

Phillips said the department now has two paid personnel per shift and tries to schedule one as a paramedic.

Holley said with he and Barr on board, the department can provide the same advanced cardiac support care as a hospital and carries the same drugs a hospital would use.

He also said the unit has a defibrillator that can be used for everything from restoring normal heart rhythm to full cardiac arrest shocks.

Holley said he loves the people of Harpersville now have access to the same level of care as such places as Hoover. Barr agrees. He also called the Harpersville Fire Department a great atmosphere in which to work.

Holley added that both he and Barr had to pass the same test as doctors in a hospital emergency room.

That’s not all that has changed at the department.

According to Roper, Harpersville has purchased its first ambulance from the Cahaba Valley Fire Department, which doubles for transportation and a high angle rescue gear vehicle.

With a $2,400 County Health Foundation Grant, Roper said the department purchased high angle rescue gear.

Phillips said the department is currently cross-training its members in high angle rope rescue and confined space rescue.

With federal funds, Roper said the department has purchased its own self-contained breathing apparatus air bottle filling station and a thermal imaging camera.

In the past, the unit had to travel to Hoover or Columbiana to fill its bottles. He said the thermal imaging camera can be used to help locate victims in a fire.

Overall, according to information provided by Phillips and Roper, the Harpersville Fire Department has 29 volunteer personnel, 24 of whom are active and nine paid personnel in addition to themselves.

Other new paid personnel include John Yancy, Barry Adair, Jason Watson, Todd Easter, Creed McDaniel, Matt Bunn and Kerri Russo.

Phillips said the Harpersville Fire Department is teaching community CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) classes, hosting an EMT school and several state fire schools and is submitting paperwork to the ISO to lower citizen’s fire insurance rating.

&uot;Other than Chelsea, we are the only department on the East side of the county that offers this type of paid fire and rescue service.&uot;