- Associated Press - Saturday, November 11, 2017

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - Four fire departments in South Dakota have recently suffered unexpected losses, leaving voids in their front lines that members say are tough to fill.

The Presho, Salem, Plankinton and Alpena fire departments each reported the death of one member in the past month, the Mitchell Daily Republic reported.

“It’s kind of a two-fold situation where it’s hard on the department on a personal level due to the amount of time you spend training together,” Salem Fire Chief Nathan Olinger said. “And it’s difficult because small, community fire departments are struggling in recruitment and retention anyway. It’s very difficult and it’s a big deal for us.”

South Dakota Firefighters Association President Charlie Kludt said an option for the region departments as they regroup is to look toward mentoring services to recruit.

Kludt said while the departments are working to fill voids in their departments, members are also dealing with grief, which he says can be more difficult to overcome.

Kludt said that despite the training firefighters and other first responders receive for physical and emotional situations, there’s no amount of training that can prepare a person for losing a friend.

“The common action is to honor those responders we lost, by getting out and utilizing our training, knowledge and abilities to help others the best way we know how,” Kludt said.


Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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