IRMO, S.C. — Dave Bitters is an Irmo man who is working with first responders to better their interactions with people who are hard of hearing.

When Bitters was three, he had the measles which caused high fevers that damaged his ears.

“So I’ve had hearing aids for a long time. Now I wear Cochlear implants for the last 15 years," Bitters says. 

After a long career as a photo engineer among other things, Bitters made his way to SC.

Bitters shared one of his first instances with entities needing Hard of Hearing training, “When the 2015 flooding hit, I heard there were people in the White Hall area that the person was deaf living in a house, the fire department went out, knocked on the door, no answer. They had to return back to that house because the person was asking for help, the water was already too high for them to get out- so they had to help them out. Somebody who couldn’t hear the knocking."

Dave Bitters training some Irmo Firefighters.
Dave Bitters

“So from that I started training the fire department what to look for," Bitters continues, "How to make that extra effort and to make them aware of who in your community that are deaf or hard of hearing that needs that kind of help."

Bitters started training then, and when the City of Columbia was sued later on for not providing an interpreter for someone- Bitters wrote a letter to Richland and Lexington County's Sheriff's Offices and has been training them on working with the hard of hearing ever since.

Bitters offers flyers communicating that a person is hard of hearing for people to put in their car. It can help if the person is in a traffic stop or accident.

He also provides communication boards for all EMS and fire department vehicles.

Communication Board
Side one of the communication board Bitters shares with first responders.
Communication Board

“Two hours after I gave Irmo Fire this they had to use this card," Bitters remembers, "So that was uplifting. Something I did finally came to be useful.”

Bitters says he will train any entity and has even been asked by fraternity organizations to come and train.

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“I’m doing it for my past and also because I think I’m helping people and it’s a good thing too.”

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