Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department welcomes new member

"This is some of the best experience in my mind in my field," said Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department's newest member, Rhiannon Broersma. "I have friends who do volunteer work (as part of the requirements for the pre-med degree) but don't get the patient contact that I do, such as interviewing people, etc., and the other firefighters are very helpful in training, taking the time to show me different things, and I meet a lot of good people."

Broersma, pronounced "Bros ma," beams as she tells me about the experience she gets as a volunteer firefighter as well as participating in ride alongs with the paramedics out of station No. 7, one of three stations in the East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts (EFFPD) that have paramedics assigned to them for the medical calls. As a pre-med student in her third year at University of Nevada, Reno, and majoring in bio-chemistry, Rhiannon is taking 12 credits this term as well as working on her Emergency Medical Technician basic class offered through Western Nevada College and EFFPD. Those are pretty amazing credentials for anyone, but even more impressive when you find out that Rhiannon just turned 18 two months ago.

"Right now I am looking at trauma doctor as a specialty but that could change. I will probably wait to decide until I have completed rotations (working in different specialties of medicine) in the last two years of medical school," Rhiannon explains.

With such a busy schedule, it is sometimes difficult to find time for relaxation but Rhiannon spends a lot of time during the summer going fishing and hiking with 11-year-old Sam, one of her younger brothers.

"We go to the Walker River and take some pretty long hikes. We've seen several deer but so far no bears," she adds with a big smile. "We also go out a lot as a family but don't go on very long hikes because my 4-year-old younger brother Mikias can't quite keep up yet."

Her family also includes parents Mike and Carol as well as two sisters, Nicole, 20, and Jordan, 10.

There are four parts of the training program to be a volunteer firefighter: structures, wildland, Emergency Medical Services and Haz-Mat. The EMT basic course that Rhiannon is taking this term is one of three parts in the paramedic training. The paramedics are the only ones trained to start IVs and intubate patients. It also requires an internship program and being able to pass a state certification exam. After completing her Entry Level Firefighting training through EFFPD, Rhiannon wasn't able to actually go out on fire calls until she turned 18 but has already been on two fire calls - one was a wildland fire in a field off Centerville Road and the other one was a house response. It was an unusual call because the smoke detector didn't go off even though the home was filled with smoke. They discovered that a mouse had set up housekeeping in the space around the woodstove insert and the heat caused the nesting material to smolder. According to fellow firefighters, Rhiannon didn't hesitate to go under the house to help with the investigation.

Rhiannon credits her friend from high school, Nicole Spencer, with sparking her interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter.

"Nicole is an EMT with East Fork and I thought it would be good experience for me," she said.

It sounds like it is a win-win for all in this - the department as well as Rhiannon and her future patients.

On behalf of the department and community, we thank you for your commitment as well as your contagious enthusiasm and wish you great success in fulfilling your goals.

-- To reach Gail Davis, e-mail or call 265-1947.


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