(MVFD Officers’ note: This is the first in a series of posts introducing and showing appreciation for the dedicated men and women who volunteer their time, sweat, and passion as members of the Morris Volunteer Fire Department and Morris EMS. If you see one of the fine folks featured here around town, say hello—and we’re sure they’d appreciate a “thank you” also.)
Katelyn Shemms is a MVFD all-star.
A member for approximately 5 years, she’s a full-time nursing student at Porter & Chester Institute, she has two jobs, helps care for family members—and is one of our most dedicated volunteers.
“Helping people is my thing,” says Katelyn, a certified EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) who is trained in CPR and First-Aid. Her mother, grandmother and an aunt are all nurses, so helping people runs in the family.
On the EMS side of the MVFD, Katelyn had regular shifts driving the ambulance during the Monday and Wednesday 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shifts. Even when she wasn’t on the schedule, she’s the kind of volunteer who would happily get out of bed in the middle of the night to respond to even a minor situation.
A true team player, who helps Fire Chief Joel Skilton and other officers with presentations on fire prevention and public safety, Katelyn has done National Incident Management System (NIMS) training and she has the Q endorsement on her Connecticut license, which means she’s qualified to operate fire apparatus.
“I like driving big trucks,” she says. (Who doesn’t?)
She hasn’t been driving the ambulance lately, however, and that troubles her on multiple levels. As part of a disagreement between the MVFD and the First Selectmen over details surrounding local EMS service, there’s no ambulance in the Morris Firehouse at the moment. Service is being provided by Litchfield Ambulance.
“I feel lost without the ambulance,” says Katelyn, who is concerned about the public safety aspects of not having an ambulance in town, especially in the summer when activity at Bantam Lake reaches its annual peak, and when there are three active camps in town, one offered by Morris Beach & Recreation, and Camp Awosting and Camp Washington.
Sooner than many families might want, the new school year will start, and while James Morris School is adjacent to the firehouse, ambulance and EMS service for students and staff is much farther away than it used to be—and farther away than it should be, says Katelyn, who expresses hope the MVFD and town leadership will work out their issues and bring back local EMS and ambulance service.
“This is my second home,” Katelyn says of the MVFD. We truly value that level of dedication, and we hope it’s also valued by residents of Morris and visitors, who are safer and more secure because of the service provided by Katelyn and all of our volunteers.
We’re always looking for more volunteers like Katelyn. To join our “family,” email MVFD President Kevin DeRoehn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-567-7441 to learn more about becoming a member.