On some nights, Stephen Cramer gets home from teaching elementary-school students, suits up and spends all night helping Tabernacle residents in trouble.
He’s not a superhero, but the assistant chief of the Tabernacle Rescue Squad, an organization of volunteers who serve as first responders.
“Our job is to help people,” he said. “It’s really just to give back to the community and pay it forward.”
A normal shift for Cramer includes maintaining the group’s three ambulances, rescue truck and off-road vehicle. His favorite runs are the run-of-the-mill help calls.
“That grandmother that we know that we go to a couple times a month because she forgot to take her medication or something,” he explained. “That’s the thing that sticks out to me, is that sort of hometown feel to it.”
Cramer remembers a year when three of his students sustained serious injuries, though all three were able to recover and graduate from the squad. Now, the organization seeks more volunteers who will be trained by Cramer and his team.
“We have parents that are involved, grandparents. We have college students,” Cramer noted. “We have business folks, schoolteachers, nurses and police officers.There’s just a myriad of different day jobs that our people have.”
Most shifts are either six or 12 hours and all volunteers are trained EMTs. After initial instruction, volunteers are responsible for attending refresher courses once a year. The squad works with each volunteer to find a schedule that fits.
“We hear it all the time, like, ‘I don’t have the time or I don’t know that I could do that.’ And I was that person on that side,” Cramer recalled. “Through training and just getting involved, I realized that it was something I really enjoyed and wanted to keep doing.”
Despite the time commitment, Cramer said he keeps coming back because of the impact the squad has on the community.
“Obviously the lights and the sirens are fun and the camaraderie,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s really just a desire to help us help each other.”
Along with day-to-day calls, the squad also participates in community events such as Operation Santa, where the big man tours Tabernacle each year. Recently, the squad drove through one neighborhood for a resident’s 4th birthday.
Any interested volunteers can contact Tabernacle Rescue Squad through Facebook and other social media pages, or on its website at tabernaclerescue.org.
“There are still neighbors helping neighbors in Tabernacle,” Cramer added. “It’s the right thing to do for the community.”