Home CORONAVIRUS Lamar County native volunteers at Powderly VFD while awaiting college to resume classes

Lamar County native volunteers at Powderly VFD while awaiting college to resume classes

by MyParisTexas
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It takes a certain type of person with strength, dedication and a desire to serve others and partake in volunteer work. So, when the recent coronavirus outbreak put a halt to the worlds of sports and education, one local didn’t hesitate in deciding what he should do.

Former North Lamar ISD student and volunteer firefighter of the Powderly Volunteer Fire Department, Trace Bussell, was shocked by the coronavirus outbreak. He was taking classes at Collin College in McKinney in his pursuit of both being a full-time firefighter along with earning a paramedic and EMT certifications but knew exactly what he wanted to do during the hiatus.

“When I first heard about it, it was all over the news,” Trace said. “I knew about it, but I didn’t care much for it. I just kind of thought that it was just another virus. During spring break, I checked my class emails and they said school was canceled for another week and that they were even possibly looking at no school for the rest of the year as a precaution. I’m surprised by how much it’s blown up.”

“I came back home for spring break and got an email from my school saying it was canceled for the rest of the year. I was kind of making a decision on which fire department to stick around with during this time, and I told them in McKinney that right now my department over here (Powderly) needs me. I am going to stay here until I have to go back to McKinney.”

Although a tough decision, Trace ultimately chose to come back home to volunteer with his hometown fire department. While taking classes in McKinney, he volunteered at the nearby Lowry Crossing Volunteer Fire Department, but being with family and the community during this time was respected and understood all around as his ties run deep.

“I was born and raised in Powderly, Texas,” Trace said. “I’ve lived here my entire life, my dad has been with this fire department for a long time and my older brother is a lieutenant here. I went to school in North Lamar ISD and when I was 16 years old, I joined Powderly VFD as a junior member. When I turned 18 years old, I became a full-fledged firefighter. I’ve been with this department for close to four and a half years, breaking into my fifth year in 2021.”

Trace said he has always loved coming up to the fire department since he was just a few years old, and the strong family ties have made it feel like home to him.

In addition to being around those he loves, Trace enjoys the task of serving others. Whether it is a large or small task, Trace takes on any challenge or task thrown his way with a positive attitude.

“Helping others is very significant to me,” Trace said. “I really don’t know what else I would do if anything ever happened. There’s just nothing else I want to do. I like going out and helping people, going to their houses and helping them up at two in the morning after they fall into a bathtub. It’s fun, but it’s also very serious. It’s helped me a lot and helps me get free tuition and to learn more in this career.”

One day, Trace learned a great deal through a serious call on the job. With a life on the line, Trace and his team were at their best, and the experience still resonates with him strongly to this day.

“One of the calls that has impacted me the most to this day was a call about a gentleman with chest pains about a year or two ago,” Trace said. “His wife called 911 and called us out there. While we were there, he had a heart attack, he went down and his heart stopped. My dad, myself, our assistant chief Edward Hanley and a few other paramedics all did CPR on him and ended up saving his life. He’s still alive to this day — it really impacted me.”

Even veteran firefighters have taken notice of not only Trace’s abilities and servant leadership during the beginning of his firefighting career, but his entire family uniting in the cause. 

“It makes me very proud to see Trace and the rest of my family dedicate themselves to a volunteer fire department,” said Trace’s father Roger Bussell, who is the Powderly Fire Department chief and President of Lamar County Volunteer Firefighters Association. “My oldest son and Trace both started when they were 16 years old, and it does make you proud to see that work ethic, dedication to the community and service. As a father, it makes me proud to see my kids doing that. My daughter does it too — she helps me out with the administrative role. It is joyful to see the younger guys that do commit start from the bottom, work their way up and see their passion and skill develop. All the volunteer fire departments have really good people, and I’m really proud of what they do and of the people of our department in Powderly.”

The Bussell family has dedicated their lives to fighting fires in the community they know best. Volunteer fire departments carry large amounts of responsibilities in keeping citizens safe in both large and small areas across the country. However, both Roger and Trace know the importance of increasing membership locally and hope to see growth nationally.

“Lamar County has 50,000 people and the city of Paris has 25,000 people,” Trace said. “Lamar County has 18 total volunteer fire departments, and we make up one of those 18. It’s a great opportunity to help people, but we are always looking for volunteers. There are a lot of departments that may have only two or three people. We are fortunate to have a lot of people here in the Powderly department, but it’s important to have more volunteers because there are other departments in the area that need the help.”

“I don’t know the exact numbers, but volunteer firefighters make up about 75 percent of the United States firefighting force,” Roger Bussell said. “The economy of money saved by volunteering versus being paid I’m sure is astronomical. It’s tough to find people over a certain age because you get to a point where you physically can’t do it anymore. We are always encouraging more people to join, which makes it possible for everyone to do the job they’re committed to doing.”

For any questions or more information about joining or hearing more about local volunteer fire departments, call Roger Bussell at 903-495-4804 or send an email to powderlyvfd@gmail.com.

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