March 24, 2020 By pam.horowitz
I met with Captain of the Fairfield Bay Emergency Medical Services a couple of weeks ago. Before I even got out of my car, I could see how proud and dedicated Andrea Notz is. Sitting in her parking spot, her car had an EMS plate on the front and a similar hat sitting on the dashboard. At the time when we met, the nation was just now starting to realize how serious of a situation COVID-19 was, and you could tell that she was taking it head on – keeping her volunteers as protected as possible and working to educate the public on best practices for dealing with the virus.
How long have you been in FFB? What brought you here?
“I’ve been here for 18 years, and before that 15 years as a vacationer. We used to have a vacation home in Lake of the Ozarks, and it just got so overcrowded and busy – you couldn’t bring your small boats out there – so our family actually found this. Somebody actually came here through Wyndham, and we fell in love. And then we bought a vacation home, sight unseen.”
“I was on vacation here one summer. I’m a nurse and I worked in a trauma unit, and so I just said, ‘Why can’t we just stay here?’ My husband said, ‘If you can find a job, we can stay here.’ I was on Sandy Beach with the kids in Heber, and I got a call from the hospital in Heber Springs asking me to come in for an interview. So, I went in, and they offered me the job.”
“It’s the best decision we ever made. We actually had two kids that were still in school, and so we got them out of the area – it’s not the best area out there (Chicago), so they went to Shirley High Schools, and they’re doing fantastic now.”
Tell me about how you’re connected to the FFB community /your passion.
“First of all, this (EMS in FFB) started in 1974. It started with a doctor realizing that people get sick here, we had no ambulance service – not even a paid ambulance service. I think they started with like a station wagon. It started out like that and then got bigger and bigger.”
“So this is an all-volunteer organization. I have 54 volunteers that work here. We like to say we’re neighbors taking care of neighbors, because we know everyone that’s here. We’re a volunteer organization, but we’re the only volunteer organization in the state of Arkansas that has every single person on the ambulance service certified through either national or state. So they’re either EMT, Emergency Medical Responders, or CEVOs (Certified Emergency Vehicle Operators). We’re all very proud that our education director, Will Griffin, who has been teaching EMT classes for 4 years, has kept Greer’s Ferry EMS (also a volunteer organization) running because of the EMTs that he’s trained.”
What inspires you about FFB?
“Oh my gosh – the people. We have the best people. You look at the volunteers that we have – we have so many people that find this community so important that they’re willing to volunteer. They volunteer for everything, and I can’t say enough about it. I love this place.”
“And even our city – I love Paul, the mayor, the community club. It’s a beautiful place. You find things all the time, even if you’ve been here forever. You’ll go, ‘Wait, I didn’t know this trail was here!’ It’s almost like that I can’t believe that I live here.”
What’s your favorite memory while being here?
“I would say when we actually got my grandparents and my parents to come down. There was one year that we were able to get everybody – I have a big family – to come for a reunion. Soon after that my father passed unexpectedly, and it was so great to have everybody here. What a place to celebrate!”
What’s your favorite thing about FFB?
“The lake. I LOVE the lake! I love when the weather changes. I love the fact that in January we can go out on the lake. When we were in Chicago you took your boat out during the season, Labor Day & Memorial Day, and here – we’ve been out here on New Year’s on the lake.”