The first female firefighter in Ratliff City brought a wave of firsts to her volunteer department.
Bobbie Robbins, the Ratliff City clerk and treasurer, has only been with the department for a few years. Her husband, who also works for the city, joined years ago. Robbins said now, the department is like family to her.
“Most people are supportive. At the beginning, it was different,” Robbins said. “They weren’t used to seeing female first responders show up.”
Robbins wasn’t looking to draw attention to herself by joining. She said it came from a desire to help her community. Robbins set out to do that, initially taking a different route, as she saw the need for more medical assistance in her part of Carter County. She earned her Emergency Medical Responder certification in 2015, when she was 36, and her Emergency Medical Technician training in 2016.
“I wanted to show my kids it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can go back to school and accomplish whatever you want,” Robbins said. “I’ve always taught them that if you want something, you go for it.”
The lessons seem to be paying off. Robbins’ 18-year-old son, still a senior in high school, recently joined the volunteer fire department as well.
“I’ve always been about helping people, and the medical field is just something that I’ve always been interested in,” Robbins said. “I never thought I’d do anything like that.”
When she applied, she considered her chances of being allowed in slim, but the department voted to add her to their roster of firefighters in February 2017. By March, she’d fought her first fire.
“Now, I’m the EMT up here, and I make the majority of the medical calls we have,” Robbins said. “I’m on the fire side of it too, and people know that if they need help or if they’re sick, they’ll call me.”
Robbins’ medical expertise paid off in the long run. As emergency medical response supervisor, Robbins’ registered the department as a Licensed Emergency Medical Response Agency with the state of Oklahoma, a
designation that’s somewhat rare for volunteer fire departments.
“We are one of, I think, three in Carter County,” Robbins said. “I take care of the medical side of it, I’m taking inventory, taking care of supplies.”
She said while she remains the department’s medical leader, she said she knows none of it could happen without her team behind her.
“I call them ‘my boys,’” Robbins said. “I couldn’t do any of it without my boys, whether it’s a fire or medical scene. We really are just one big family.”
Robbins also joined Community Emergency Response Team, a Carter County volunteer agency that assists local first responders with, among other things, firefighter rehab. Firefighter rehab involves monitoring the health of firefighters at the scene, making sure they’re taken care of and not exhausted as a fire wears on.
“I pull myself off the fire and I go straight to medical,” Robbins said. “If we’re at a fire for an extended period of time, I make sure my guys are okay. I make sure they’re getting water, I make sure they’re getting snacks, if they get injured I take care of that. If something major happens, we’ll get them to the hospital.”
Since then, CERT has assisted the department with difficult fires. In March 2017, the department fought fires for three days straight alongside Fox, Purnell, Wilson, Lone Grove, Healdton, Dillard and Graham’s departments.
“We’d get one put out, we’d have another one,” Robbins said. “I brought CERT out. Some of them weren’t used to firefighter rehab, and they were like ‘what is this?’ Now, when there’s a big fire, we’re going to take care of them.”
Robbins said despite the danger, she’s never once felt scared. Her trust in her family and their trust in her has kept her fearless from the first fire.
  “It’s really neat,” Robbins said. “You get a major call, and you know what they need without having to actually talk to the person, and they know what you need. We all have our places.”