NEW CASTLE —
Scott Township gets between 150 and 175 calls a year, according to Hitchen. About one-third of those are medical and the remainder are fire- or accident-related.
He feels confident when Bedilion is available for a call.
“She has worked out great for us,” he said. “She is very quick to pick up on things and I think her military background her helped her, too, because she is very structured and a very hard worker.
“You have to have confidence in your firefighters and I have absolutely no qualms about going into a burning structure with her.”
Hitchen said that Bedilion wasted no time gaining full acceptance from his department members.
“She works right alongside the guys and never expects any special treatment because she’s a female,” he said. “When the guys start joking around, she jokes right with them and totally holds her own. She has gained complete acceptance.”
A RANGE OF DUTIES
Bedilion has learned through her years as a volunteer firefighter that fighting fires actually is just one facet of the job.
She keeps her pager next to her at all times and when she hears the “tones,” and the words, “Station 1500,” she springs into action.
“When you get to the fire hall, you find out what you’re going to be doing — part of it depends on who gets there first and what the needs are at the time,” Bedilion said. “If they need water supply, you’re on water supply. If there’s an accident or you need a perimeter around a fire scene, you might be on traffic detail. If they need people on hose lines, you’re on hose lines. If a landing zone is needed for a medical helicopter, you might find yourself setting up landing zones. And once you start in a role, you stick with it during the entire call.
“Sometimes you just have to keep people out of harm’s way,” she added. “It amazes me how the average person thinks because they have rubber tires, they can drive over live electrical wires. You have to tell them, ‘you’re in a metal car and no matter what, you never drive over live electrical wires.’ You can’t imagine the people who will say, ‘Gee, I never knew that.’
And, as she learned early on in her career, sometimes the word “rescue” does not refer to a human.
“When I was in Richhill, we got a call,” she said. “A 70-year-old man had set his barn on fire by accident when he was working in it. He was totally panicked when we got there, worrying about his animals. We got the animals out and I spent the next few hours running around a field catching pigs and goats.”
When their workload is slow, Bedilion and her Scott Township firefighters will lend a hand helping with bingo at the fire hall, spaghetti dinners or conducting clothes drives for families who lost everything in a fire.
“Every day is different,” she said. “That’s one of the great things about it, you never know what the day is going to bring. My adrenaline flows 24/7.
“I have a family at home and a family at the fire hall. And the one at the fire hall is just as important.”