Regaining Control

December 7, 2021

Bob Milgrim of Arizona likes to stay busy. Even though, he’s confined to a wheelchair, the Yuma-area resident, like many of us, enjoys getting out of his house, running errands and working on projects. But in Milgrim’s case, he faced an extra challenge when trying to leave and enter his house — he didn’t have a ramp installed outside that would allow him to easily navigate going in and out of his home.

“I had to call Rural Metro Fire several times because I needed their help to get in and out,” says Milgrim. 

Rural Metro Fire had no problem assisting him, but when a dispatcher noticed the frequency of his calls one late August day, she wondered if there was a way to help him beyond the just getting him “in- and-out scenario.” 

“When it was brought to our attention that Milgrim’s house didn’t have a wheelchair ramp, we knew we had to help,” says Battalion Chief Jeff Woodruff. “It would have cost anywhere from $4000 to $4500 to install an aluminum ramp and we knew that amount was not going to be feasible for Milgrim. So, the plan was to see if we could donate a ramp and set it up for him as well.”

It was a plan that went into action immediately. 

After solicitating donation requests from various home improvement retailers, the department went with Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber Company, who graciously offered the materials for free. Woodruff and several other personnel from the department then began working on the details for the construction. Fire Captain Aaron Mikolic, who played a key role in the effort, says the initiative was coming from a place of pure service. “The residents in and around Yuma are more than just people who live in our community — they are our neighbors. And at Rural Metro Fire, we go all out for our neighbors,” says Mikolic. 

For Milgrim, that neighborly act went a long way. The wheelchair ramp that he so much needed was ready on October 23, 2021. “I was thrilled when I saw it. I can now go up, down and around my house with no difficulty at all,” he says. “I want to give credit to the people at Rural Metro Fire. All of this was quite the surprise for me.”

“It’s people like Milgrim that make this endeavor worthwhile,” says Mikolic. “Putting this ramp up for him was more than just about doing our job transporting patients, it was about meeting a need for someone who wants to be self-reliant but needed a little assistance in doing so.”

Today, the Rural Metro Fire Yuma operations are now considering a yearly project in which they can help others with a need similar to Milgrim’s. “We loved doing this and there may be others like Milgrim who could use a structural addition to their home that could help them with their day-to-day activities,” says Woodruff. 

Being able to go in and out of your house is a “day-to-day” activity, and it’s one that Milgrim is grateful for, particularly to the folks at Rural Metro Fire, who, he says, did more than just build a ramp for him— they gave him a little bit of his independence back. 

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