Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 10, 2012

Longtime EMA volunteers recall their time of service

A broken jaw and a near-miss with an out-of-control car aren’t enough to keep 76-year-old John Campbell away.

A longtime volunteer with the emergency management agencies in Howard and Cass counties, Campbell has seen his share of danger, but he’s not quitting.

“I love this,” he said. “I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon.”

His service began in Cass County in 1982. After nine years there and then retiring from Chrysler, he signed up with the Howard County agency.

In 2006, while directing traffic at an accident scene, Campbell’s car was struck, sending him to Methodist Hospital for four days with a broken jaw, facial lacerations and internal injuries.

Three months later, Campbell was back volunteering with EMA.

“It gets in your blood,” he said.

Campbell said he didn’t join “to play cops and robbers.” The training offered in Howard County, he said, is designed to keep the volunteers and the public safe.

“In Howard County, the agency works closely with the sheriff’s department and other agencies,” he said.

Howard County EMA director Larry Smith is looking for more people like Campbell who feel called to help their community. The agency is accepting applications for volunteers to serve with the police, fire and rescue departments, Smith said.

“They volunteer their time to give back to the community and to learn,” he said. “Right now, we’re looking for more EMTs and ambulance drivers.”

It’s an ideal opportunity for younger people interested in a career in law enforcement to learn if the job is meant for them, he said.

“We train them to a certain point,” he said. “They are then able to get hired by local agencies. We’ve had volunteers go to work for Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana State Police and FBI.”

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