When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
116.  FIRE LOG 1962

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When reading the old 1864 Fire Brigade fit Fire Engine Training Guide, as quoted in the first pages of this book, I noticed there were several lessons for caring for injured at the fire scene. Many of the methods used in the previous century -would work now. In the late 1950's and throughout the 60's, CFD firemen and myself, as a Boy Scout working on my First Aid merit badge, would obtain Red Cross First Aid training in the station. Mrs. Ruby Hutchinson of Charleston would be the teacher. From what I remember she was tough and controlled her students, including some pretty salty young and older men. I can remember jokes of the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation training by Ruby. It was done on a dummy. She taught the various bandages, how to handle people going into shock, -what to do with burn victims, etc. Ruby presented Red Cross First Aid cards to all who passed her course. In March of 1964, a newspaper clipping mentions Ruby giving several splint sets to George Milliner and Mel Taylor for placement on the trucks. She was indeed a pioneer in the area of emergency services in Charleston. Many missed Ruby's toughness and sense of humor.


"Mel-Ask Dr. Neal if he'd like to have a teaching authorization. I can get it for him if he can use it. Ruby." [She enclosed the blank Red Cross First Aid Card, to which many men carried in the early days. Ruby was in charge of the Red Cross program in Charleston.



Captain Mel Taylor was active in trying to get better pay for Charleston firemen. He joined the various professional associations connected to fire-fighting. One thing I know, though, is that he was pretty tough when at the fire station on-duty. I -worked a few summers as a fill-in fireman for guys on vacation. He didn't fool around about giving orders and expecting results. He also did not really like the way the firefighters union started dictating to the council or commissioner. This philosophy was odd in the modern age. Regardless, the firemen probably would not have gained the higher wages if it were not for men like Me! Taylor. If you remember, even the early volunteers went to the council to seek better pay for the officers. In the early years (through the 1930's) the men received $1.50 a night to stand by. The profession, in Charleston, has become a good one with a good pension plan. The job still centers around the GONG. The men still have to spend many hours away from home and family. Danger is still present in every call. The men work in larger crews, have more calls including ambulance responses. As with teachers, a fireman will never get wealthy. In December of 1962, Mel Taylor asked for a hike in the base pay of firemen from $340 per month to $400. He presented a petition from his fellow firemen. In addition he requested a longevity pay remuneration system. All firemen made the same pay in 1962. The council put the petition on the agenda of the next meeting.


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