As the Poulsbo Fire Department responded to a medical call last month, the crew tripped over a makeshift wheelchair ramp.
The ramp — made from a lawn mower loading plank on top of two pieces of two-by-eight lumber — left the four-man crew nervous about the family’s safety. A mother, who uses a wheelchair, recently moved in with her daughter, who also is caring for her husband.
“The family seemed a little overwhelmed,” Lt. Chris Rahl said.
After a quick conversation the group — firefighters Chris Rahl, Steve Behal and Chris Cribbs, along with paramedic Ed McLaughlin — asked the family if they could build a new ramp.
And on Feb. 12, a day that all four men were off duty, the crew made a morning supply run for lumber and built the ramp in place during the afternoon.
The new eight-foot long, non-skid ramp only took a few hours to build and was a relatively simple project, Rahl said.
And funding the project was simple.
The department has a community assistance fund that comes from fundraisers and donations, Rahl said. The fund also is used to pay for hotel rooms when a home is severely damaged by a fire, North Kitsap Fishline’s holiday meals and other community aid.
But the department doesn’t take requests, Rahl said.
When firefighters and paramedics see a need, like a new ramp, they take action.
While the fire department has built ramps in the past, the recent ramp is the first one in five or six years, according to Rahl.
Usually, you won’t hear Poulsbo’s firefighters talking much about their community assistance. They are humble and aren’t after recognition, according to spokesperson Jody Matson.
“They just did it to help.”