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Local Business Provides Incentives for First Responders

Troy Scherr (left) and Bradley Schilling (right).     Most small towns across America struggle to find first responders like ambulance workers and firefighters.  Troy Scherr, co-owner of Sayler Implement in Wishek and Linton, understands this and has done something about it.
     Troy initiated a policy three years ago that has created incentives to fill some of these much-needed positions:  if you are on the ambulance crew, you get time off when paged, no question (WHC provides a stipend to ambulance workers).  If you are a volunteer firefighter, you get paid time off if you get called in.  Sayler Implement Mechanic Bradley Schilling is a Wishek firefighter and also joined the ambulance crew as an EMR (Emergency Medical Responder), having graduated from high school just two years ago.  His friend Colbie Fandrich, a WHC-trained EMT, encouraged Bradley to take the plunge.  Troy’s response to Bradley’s merit was, “I was impressed!  One day during break, I saw Bradley studying his (ambulance) book and he told me he wanted to join.”
     Bradley completed his EMR training in a month and a half and is on his way to becoming an EMT.  He keeps his pager on him during his assigned shift every Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in case he gets called in.  He has proven himself a dedicated worker with an eager-to-learn attitude.  With some extra income and approved time off from his boss, Bradley thinks it’s a pretty good deal.  But the best benefit of joining the ambulance team is, “getting to help people that really need help,” Bradley said, plain and simple.
     So far, Bradley is the only Wishek Sayler Implement employee on the ambulance crew, and the only one on both the ambulance and fire crew.  Dave Just, Larry Wald, and Jason Kuntz are also firefighters.  Troy compensates pay for the firefighters since their position is volunteer.  “I pay them for their time, even if it takes five hours, six hours, it doesn’t matter.  I pay them.  We need them for the community,” Troy stated with conviction.  As a business owner, Troy sees the ambulance team and firefighters as essential for our towns.  “These guys are leaders in both of these departments.  Some of their calls have got to be tough.  They’re all young guys, so it’s the least I can do to help them as they are helping the community.”  Troy came up with his policy after struggling between his desire to be a fireman and his responsibilities at the dealership.  “So this is my volunteer opportunity: to let them off and pay them to be volunteers, since I can’t do it myself at this point.”
     Troy understands the struggle to recruit volunteers and the sacrifice some people make to volunteer in a small town.  “You often have to take vacation time to be a volunteer, and it shouldn’t be like that because every community needs both the ambulance and fire departments.  I feel like you have to support those who support you, and these two departments are a part of our support systems.”    

If you are interested in duplicating Troy Scherr’s policy for your own employees and would like more information on the commitment level required for ambulance crew members, please contact WHC’s Felicia Sampson at 452-2326.  


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