A band of volunteer firefighters answers calls across Neshoba County day and night.

But there is nothing ordinary or routine about it when they are coming to help you or your loved ones, and a Neshoba County native knows first-hand.

Nell Davis, now of Gulf Shores, Ala., was a long way from home, friends and family Nov. 2 when her husband, Bruce, had a medical emergency in the Arlington community at three in the morning.

“He couldn’t move and I didn’t know what to do,” Davis said. “Our phone reception isn’t good. I ran out of the house and dialed 911. I was standing on a dirt road off of Marty Stuart Drive. I needed help.”

Davis said that within minutes, responders for the Arlington Volunteer Fire Department were there. Her husband, 79, was on the floor and they cared for him until the ambulance arrived.

He was transported to Neshoba General and then spent 19 days at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center. He is now in a rehab center in Alabama.

Davis was born in Neshoba County but moved away with her family as a child. She owns family property here and built a small house to come up to and enjoy “some peace and quiet.”

“We had driven up that day,” Davis said. “I want to thank Andrew Phillips, Nathan Spears and Monty Lewis. I will forever be grateful for those guys and the way they stayed with us until the ambulance came.”

Lewis, the fire chief at Arlington, said his department answered 16 such calls during the month of November.

Many of the county’s volunteer firefighters are EMTs and can provide basic life support until an ambulance arrives with a paramedic.

“We have a good group of men and women who care about their community a want to give something back,” Lewis said. “Our responders live all over the community, When a call goes out, we can have someone there in minutes. That night, we had a responder who lived nearby and it was a good response time.”

Going to fires is just a small part of the services that the Volunteer Fire Departments provide, Lewis said.

“We train for that,” Lewis said. “Most of our calls are for medical emergencies and wrecks.”

The departments are also a big help after a storm and trees are in the road. However, their numbers are dropping.

“The manpower is dropping off,” Emergency coordinator Darrell Wilson said. “I wish more people would get active.

“I feel good about the people and departments we have. We have very good firefighters in the county who have maintained their training.

“But some of our departments are getting down to four or five active firefighters who regularly respond to calls. I remember a time when you would go to a fire and 15 or more firefighters would be there.”

Wilson said anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer fireman should go by their community station and talk the fire chief.

There are 12 fire districts in Neshoba County. Nine are rated eight; two are rated nine and one is a 10. The lower the fire district’s rating, the lower home insurance is going to be. And those ratings come about in part because of the hard work of volunteers in increasing the level of protection for their community and then maintaining it.

Arlington VFD has 14 active responders.

“The young people don’t seem as interested in becoming involved,” Lewis said. “But we need more.”