RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond firefighters are ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
“They’re similar to professional athletes, but unlike the athletes, firefighters don’t have time to warm up,” says Steve Korb, who retired in 2010 after a 35-year career in the fire service. “They go from zero to 100.”
Now volunteers with the Metro Richmond Flying Squad are ready to spring into action with them.
Korb saw a need for a rehabilitative response team in Richmond when he retired here after 25 years in South Florida, where there was a support program in place for first responders.
Plans for the Metro Richmond Flying Squad took shape in December 2016, and it officially launched in May.
“This is mainly about firefighters helping firefighters,” says Korb. “Once you become a firefighter, you’re always a firefighter. It stays with you for your entire life.”
The Metro Richmond Flying Squad responds to emergencies along with crews. Volunteers offer drinks, food, clean up and rehab services, along with camaraderie.
“Not only is it good for them, but it’s also good for us because they can share tips, let us know how they handled situations,” explains Lt. Chris Armstrong, a spokesperson for the Richmond Fire Department. “There’s a lot of experience sitting around in those tents and driving around in those vans.”
Volunteers have assisted at nine incidents so far, including the shooting of Virginia State Police Special Agent Michael Walter where more than 100 members of law enforcement worked for several hours.
The work each member of the Richmond Flying Squad continues a dedication to fellow firefighters that does not just end on retirement day.
“They’re so used to taking care of other people’s needs that often their own needs get neglected,” Korb describes how firefighters typically operate. “We’re there to try to fill that void and just take care of our brothers and sisters that are still out there doing the job today.”
The Metro Richmond Flying Squad currently has 29 members. Most volunteers are retired firefighters, but anyone willing to support first responders on active scenes is welcome to join.
It operates solely on contributions from the public or business owners.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on volunteer opportunities and making a donation.