Volunteer Spotlight: Charlie Kludt

charlie-kludtName: Charlie Kludt
Title: Firefighter-EMT; SDFA President
Department Name: Viborg VFD
Location: Viborg, SD

Why are you an NVFC member?
As member of our state association, I was aware of the NVFC through our state representative. He was the one who had talked to me about the NVFC and considering to be a director for our state.

After learning more and attending NVFC meetings and conferences as an alternate director, I realized how much the NVFC does for the volunteers of our nation. Representing volunteer emergency services in Washington, DC, on NFPA committees, and many national agencies, I have become much more interested and involved in what they do for volunteers.

What is your occupation?

Why are you a volunteer firefighter, EMT, or rescue provider?
I live in a small, rural community. When people ask me, “How can you do it?” I tell them, I enjoy it for the same reason I hate it. I enjoy it because I know the people I’m helping. But, I hate it, because I’m going to help people I know.

As a volunteer, I have been on three medicals in which I DIDN’T know who I was helping or their family.

What year did you join the fire or emergency services?

What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
As a former school teacher, I had to respond to incidents involving fatal injuries of students I taught. A total of four in three accidents, including two sisters.

On a lighter side… Anytime a young person recognizes me as a firefighter, whether from a Fire Prevention Week presentation or from an incident, and they say, “Hey, you’re a firefighter!” I had a young person who had been injured riding an ATV. While I was working with him, I said he was going to be okay, and he was going to have something neat for show-and-tell at school. A few weeks later, he saw me and asked if I remembered him. Of course I did. He was doing better and asked me if I wanted to see his scar. Who could pass that up!?

What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
Our department strives to make the most of the donation dollars we get from our community. We apply for, and have received, various grants that have allowed us to upgrade apparatus and equipment, SCBA and PPE, and wildland items as well.

The department received a grant, and through the cooperation of local a business, we were able to provide and install two combination smoke and CO detectors for every resident in our entire coverage area. All because the department members saw a need, took action, and did what needed to be done. Like any volunteer does.

* Interested in serving your community? Find volunteer fire service opportunities at www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org