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Building Destroyed by 2020 Tornado Provides Hands-on Training Opportunities for Local Fire Companies

Community Outreach, Foundation News |
Firefighters at Children's Village | Doylestown Health

The Value of Hands-On Learning

There is a big difference between learning something in the classroom, and actually doing it firsthand.

"This type of building is awesome for us to get in," said Jim Walter, Chief of the Hilltown Fire Company.

On August 4, 2020, an EF2 tornado touched down in Doylestown and caused significant damage to the hospital campus, including the early childhood education center, Children’s Village. Teachers and aides, alongside physicians, staff, and emergency responders, safely evacuated the building. No one was seriously injured, but the building was damaged beyond repair.

This summer, the building is providing a safe place for local volunteer fire companies to train and practice vital skills.

"It’s rare to get an actual building for training," said Dublin Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Kevin Nugent. "You can talk about these skills in the classroom, but to physically go do things is the best education."

Doylestown Health Connects with Community

Several connections between Doylestown Health and local fire companies helped bring about the training opportunity. Dublin, which holds training and education sessions for volunteer firefighters every Thursday, has come out to the hospital campus several evenings this summer to practice everything from ventilation (cutting a hole in the roof) to search and rescue.

Barb Hebel is Doylestown Health’s Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. Her son, Ryan, is a volunteer firefighter with Dublin.

"We recognize the importance of volunteer organizations and strong roles they play in the communities we serve," said Barb. "The Hospital and the Village Improvement Association of Doylestown (VIA) have always been about helping, giving back and supporting the community and what better way to support our Volunteer Fire Companies than by allowing them to train and update their skills."

Tom Smith, manager of Doylestown Health’s Environment of Care, is the safety officer for Doylestown Fire Co. No. 1. "You don’t normally have a structure like this for practice," said Smith. "Thanks to Doylestown Health making this available to the fire companies, we are getting important hands-on practice."

Doylestown holds firefighter education on Wednesdays, and continues to utilize the structure with other companies including Dublin and Hilltown.

"This gives us a real-world experience because it’s an actual structure," said Randy Diehl, volunteer firefighter with Hilltown. "It gives us experience dealing with obstacles we could actually encounter on one of our calls."

On a recent evening, volunteers from Hilltown practiced roof ventilation and hose advancement, maneuvering a few hundred feet of hose through the building. Dublin’s Rapid Intervention Team covered rescuing a fellow firefighter.

Children’s Village Today – and Tomorrow

Thanks to the support of the community, Children’s Village reopened just one week after the tornado at a new site just north of the hospital campus on Ferry Road, and has been operating out of that location for the past year.

In August, Doylestown Health announced plans to rebuild Children’s Village on the Doylestown Hospital campus as a new priority of ONE VISION: The Campaign for Doylestown Health. A $1.5 million commitment from Jeanne and John Hubbard, PhD, longstanding and visionary supporters of Doylestown Health, will serve as a seed gift and offer significant early momentum for the project through their corresponding challenge match to the community.

For project highlights and information on how you can help, visit doylestownhealthfoundation.org/childrensvillage.

Doylestown Health plans to begin demolition of the former site this Fall, and begin work on the new facility occupying the same site as soon as possible.

Children’s Village is a nationally accredited early childhood education center serving families of Doylestown Health employees and community members for over 36 years.

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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