Meet Devine Volunteer Fire Chief Greg Atkinson, who is proud to be part of this awesome team of volunteers. Not only do volunteer firefighters respond to fires and wrecks, carrying the Jaws of Life, but many now have life-saving medical training that will allow them to help when ambulances are backlogged and have delayed response times (but more on that later).
Atkinson started volunteer firefighting about six years ago where they lived in Indiana, and joined the department in Devine after his family relocated to this area. The Atkinsons have quickly come to love the community of Devine, which they now call home.
Navy service took the family from Indiana to San Diego California, and now they are here in Devine.
“I’m a country boy, so I was ready to get out San Diego,” Atkinson said. “We searched all over the SA area, and our realtor found the perfect home for us right here in Devine. We knew this was the place we wanted to be.”
He is at home, at the fire station where he does what he loves best, serving the community.
“I just love helping my community. I had just gotten out of the services in 2003, and was seeking other ways to help my community. At that time, I lived right down the road from the fire station, so I went down there and joined,” Chief Atkinson said. “I joined Devine about a year ago after moving here.”
Volunteer firefighters provide a great service the community, sacrificing many long hours and weekends to help in our time of need.
“Every call is important, and we get calls every single day,” Atkinson said.
He encourages anyone interested to come on down to the station, which is always in need of more volunteers for various positions—even if you don’t want to go on emergency calls. They also need help with drinks and food for rehab on a long, hot day for volunteers, grant writing, and office help as well.
“If you see a car at the station—come knock on the door. We want people to come down and visit and join,” Chief Atkinson said. “We welcome the community to come down and spend a little time at the firehouse.”
Big boots to fill
We at the News office, have so much respect for all of these great volunteers, who have built the department up in so many different ways.
Chief Atkinson has some big boots to fill as the Devine Fire Department has become so active and such a integral part of our community in recent years, especially when Chief Mike Walker took the reins about 4 years ago. Former Chief Walker is a great leader and an integral part of building up the department and volunteers to what it is today. Following his service as Chief, was Robert Scott’s service which began in 2019 after Walker decided to step down for a while, and enjoy some time with the family. However, Walker has remained an integral part of the community and department, helping in more ways than we can count, and I recall one firefighter saying “We aren’t going to let Walker go anywhere! We’d be lost without him!”
When called for a comment, former Chief Mike Walker stated, “Greg has the heart, the will power, and the time. He has a good heart for helping others.”
Fire Department Treasurer Shelly Watson commented, “When Clint and I first started volunteering, we saw Chief Walker establish great relationships and contacts between fire dept, police departments, sheriff’s, DPS, and all local agencies. He really opened up communication, so we could all work together for the community. He also put in new bylaws that really gave the department the structure it needed. Chief Walker and his wife, Carla, set a very firm foundation to build upon. He is a wealth of knowledge, and so good at trainings. He has done so many awesome things for our community. During the winter storm he went and got fuel and delivered it to the fire station when we needed it. Chief Atkinson is also a great guy, and we have a lot of new things going on right now at the fire department and big announcements coming up!”
EMR Response a great asset to the community
There are many new and great things on the horizon for Devine Vol. Fire Dept. Chief Atkinson is especially excited that the Devine Vol. Fire Department can now help out when 911 gets a call for a heart attack, for example, and local EMS units cannot respond in time.
“Allegiance does a great job, but there are times when they are overwhelmed with calls. We are happy to be able to assist them and to be able to help patients who might have otherwise just been laying there waiting for 30-40 minutes. When those two Devine ambulances are transporting patients to SA or on another call, we now have volunteers with the capability to step in and help until EMS personnel arrive,” Atkinson said.
“We can do the initial assessment, we can perform CPR, we have AEDs on our unit so if a patient is in cardiac arrest and needs resuscitation we can do exactly that,” Chief Atkinson said. “We can also call Air Life right away if we find the patient is critical. We can usually respond in about 12 minutes and start stabilizing patients. We cannot administer medication or transport, but there is a lot that we can do until our ambulances return from San Antonio transports or other calls.”
“Taking care of doing the initial assessment is important,” he notes, “because that means when EMS arrives, they can transport the patient to the hospital much more quickly, because we’ve already done the assessment they would otherwise have to do.”
“We need all hands on deck, so if you want to volunteer, come on down to the fire house,” Chief Atkinson said.
He also invites community members who work in SA or other big area departments, but live here in Devine, to stop by and help.
“If we have community members in Devine who are have fire fighting and medical certifications already, who are willing to bring their expertise and abilities down here to help, I encourage them to come on down. Even if you are not able to help on runs, we could also use the help with training young volunteers.”
“There’s almost always someone here on Monday and Thursday evenings,” Atkinson said.
Call the fire station at 830-665-4246 for more info or reach out to Greg Atkinson on Facebook.
By Kayleen Holder