Answering the call

It’s as normal to her as the ringing of bells in high school signaling the switching of classes. A tone goes off and then a voice starts, “Rutland Town.” At that moment, Liz Poulin might be flying out the door of her classroom or dorm to get to the scene. Her professor might not see her again until she returns to explain her departure.

A glimpse of Poulin might be caught running straight across campus or to her own vehicle. With a gear bag full of dressings for wounds, an oxygen tank, and other necessary equipment, it’s unmistakable when she’s heading to an emergency.

“It’s hell running down three flight of stairs with it,” said Poulin, who lives on the fourth floor of Wheeler Hall.

Poulin is one of five Castleton students who volunteers with the Castleton Fire Department and one of two who volunteers with Regional First Response.

“It’s not recommended,” Poulin said of working on both. “The chief kind of despises it.”

With a nurse for a mother and a paramedic firefighter for a father, it was almost inevitable that Poulin pick-up the family desire to help others. She’s been volunteering with the Castleton Fire Department for about a year and is currently completing the training for First Response.

“I had some experience from home,” Poulin said. “My dad’s a chief.”

Nick Korda, a Castleton freshman and double volunteer like Poulin for Castleton FD and First Response, has a similar background.

“My father was on the fire department for as early as I can remember,” he said. “I followed in his footsteps.”

Korda calls it a “third generation thing,” saying his grandfather also worked for a fire department. He has been on the Orwell Fire Department since 2000 and went to the first Fire Cadet Academy held in Vermont that year.

Poulin said her training for the Fire Department came from on the job training, starting with radio calls. Unlike the fire department that meets on the fourth Wednesday of every month, First Response volunteers do not have meetings. Volunteers may meet for the first time at a call.

Poulin is usually on-call during the days and can have as many as 50 calls in a week. The average for first response calls on the weekends is one or two, but during the weekend of Feb. 25 she had four. Her roommate, Jess Richards, is also a volunteer.

“It’s tricky at night because our pagers sound alike so I need to listen to who’s going,” Poulin said.

Besides working with the fire department and first response, Poulin is a public safety officer, works in the mailroom, and volunteers with Safe Ride. After college, she would like to continue volunteering wherever she is.

Korda also plans to continue volunteering after college.

“It makes you feel good doing something for somebody. It’s a good life builder,” he commented. “If I have the knowledge to help somebody, I want to be able to help somebody.

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