EVART — When it comes to an emergency, time is of the essence. And when it’s “your” emergency, it seems that no matter how long it takes for help to arrive on the scene, it just seems like an eternity.

Shane Helmer, who heads up the Evart Fire Department as chief, knows what that’s like. In fact, he and his crew are well aware that people often tell them they felt better when they could hear the siren and knew help was on its way.

So it is that the team of First Responders has been brought back to life in Evart recently, ready to head out to any emergency when necessary and get into action even before an ambulance can get there.

Helmer said the difference can be 15 to 20 minutes in Osceola County, and that can sometimes mean life or death.

“Right now we’re ready to roll,” he said recently. “We’re back up and running with 14 people trained and licensed as First Responders. It’s a great improvement for the community here and wherever we’re needed in the area.

“We can be on standby at community events, say at football games. We’re trained as the medical first response team and able to do CPR, backboard people, insert airways, we can extricate from accidents, treat sick people with oxygen, comfort them, do whatever is necessary until an ambulance arrives.”

Helmer said the earlier First Responders were in action from 1993 until 2007. “It stopped due to the economy, actually, and we lost trained people who were leaving the area looking for work. Our numbers dropped too low to maintain it then.

“First Responders are all volunteers and they also are trained in mass casualty incidents or for a situation where there are multiple injuries, for instance as the result of a tornado, fire, major accident, or something else where lots of medical help might be needed rapidly,” he said.

He added that once they had talked with communities and townships, “they all pushed us to get it up and running.”

Helmer credited Dean Foods “for making a contribution to help with the purchase of a defibrillator. The guys spent about three months in training and we’re ready to roll.” In fact, as the interview was ending a call came in and a unit was dispatched to a local restaurant where a woman was said to be choking.

And with that call, a unit was rolling.