CHC/SEK staff help build stronger communities 

CHW LeAndra Hancock volunteers as firefighter

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Across our region, CHC/SEK employees are making positive impacts within their communities, both at work and as volunteers. We’re proud of their personal investment and the contributions they bring to better their hometowns.) 

Volunteer Firefighter LeAndra Hancock’s Active 911 notifications sound on her phone, and off she goes to fight fires in the rural Allen County area.    

Similarly, that’s how her day job goes too.   

Work is hardly typical as she assists patients with various needs as a Community Health Worker at CHC/SEK. She provides food for patients in need from the pantry, visits with uninsured patients about their insurance options, help patients find transportation — sometimes providing the transportation— prescription assistance, and much more.   

In fact, in the short 35 minutes she was interviewed, she was pulled away twice to assist a patient that needed food pantry items and another who needed to find a way home from their doctor’s appointment.   

“It’s the connection that I like with the patients. I like to know more about them than just their need,” she says, adding that these connections make patients more comfortable visiting and asking for help. Some regularly come to her office just to talk. “I’m able to celebrate with them and see them go from point a to b.”  

LeAndra grew up in the small town of Hartford outside of Emporia. Her mother worked as a Special Education Teacher and her father worked at the National Wildlife Refuge. They volunteered at their hometown’s volunteer firefighter/first responder department. It only made sense to LeAndra to follow in their footsteps as a volunteer firefighter/first responder when she was older.   

“It’s always been part of my life,” she says. “I always knew that when I got the chance, I was going to do it.”   

Her parents would often have her participate in Firefighter/First Responder training classes.  

“They would always use me as the ‘dummy’,” LeAndra says. They have put her in cars to demonstrate how to use the Jaws of Life. And they put her on countless backboards. “They made a point to lift me upside down on the board because if you do not strap them in carefully, the patient will fall out.”   

Along with being part of her parents’ volunteering, another impactful moment that encouraged her to go into firefighting was when her aunt’s house caught fire when she was young, who happened to be a neighbor.   

“That was really dramatic,” LeAndra says. “I’ve seen house fires from far away and everything, but being really close was different. It’s crazy how fast the house filled with smoke and how quickly it caught fire everywhere. We did not have much time to get much of anything out.”   

As a rural volunteer firefighter, LeAndra commonly responds to grass fires, house fires and assists other emergency departments. If she can go, she notifies her Active 911 phone application that she’s responding to the fire. She puts on her specially fitted gear and jumps in the truck.   

Recently, LeAndra was also added to her hometowns Firefighter/First Responder Department as an Auxiliary member. Now, when she is home with family, she can join her family in helping the needs of the community she grew up in.   

LeAndra says it’s possible to work full-time, be a volunteer firefighter and mom of two. It’s just important to balance your time. LeAndra encourages people to take care of themselves.   

“Give yourself a break, and enjoy your family and your ‘you’ time,” she says. “Especially in the helping professions, we’re very giving, and we forget to take care of ourselves.” 

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