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Dear Editor,
In respect to all the emergency responders and in light of the upcoming Fireman’s annual spaghetti feed, I would like to share a couple of stories with your readers. The underlying theme in these stories is “The Sounds.” The first story that opened my eyes happened several years ago as my wife and I were attending a pre-graduation party for a local Battalion Chief’s daughter at the old downtown recreation center. Due to the party being held in the same building as the fire department, a few of the on duty fire department personnel were in attendance. No longer had they filled their plates and sat down, the alarms sounded off.
What I experienced next was one of the most powerful moments of my life. Before I could turn around, the men were gone, plates full of food, cups full of punch and the sound of my heart beating out of my chest, I was literally in shock. As I composed myself, I wondered if they were going to help someone I knew, maybe it was you.
I, like most people, have never witnessed an event like that or seen that view of life, the view from the emergency personnel’s eyes. The view we see as the public is like the one I experienced on two separate occasions about a week apart from each other in that I was the first one on the scene at a vehicle accident. On both occasions I was completely out of my element. All I could do is tell these people that were suffering that help is on the way. I was sure of that from my past experience at the firehouse on that Saturday afternoon.
These honorable men and women will not ask for your respect, because they do not require praise, but they deserve it. Helping others is built within them, it is who they are, and it is what they do. The reality is, a lot of people do not appreciate these emergency personnel until they need them. I for one appreciate each and every one of them for the sacrifices they make for me. Like being away from their families, the training that is required and the dedication to service so that they can be “on call” for us night or day in usually what is at our darkest times in life.
To all those who serve us with unselfish strength, “Thank You”
My last story or insight in relationship to these first responders is about the strong bond that exists between all the emergency service men and women that are there to keep us safe or to be there for us in our time of need. Whether it is in the cold of winter or the heat of summer, in the middle of the day or in the darkest of nights. This bond was quite evident at the funeral of my wife’s brother-in-law Kent Newport. Kent was a State Trooper and by all accounts was loved and respected by all who knew him. I counted over 50 service vehicles represented by our areas finest police departments, state troopers, sheriff’s department, fire department and many others who share this common core of honor. They all turned out in their dress uniforms, their vehicles shined and their hands raised to the front of their hats in salute with their heartfelt goodbye showing in their eyes as they sent one of their own home to meet the Lord. This time it was the sound of silence as they reflected on their time spent with Kent, the respect they had for Kent and the lifetime service he unselfishly provided for the public. I had originally believed that they were their own separate departments and there was no unity. I was wrong, they are a powerful team that will be there for you and I as soon as we call. Next time you run into one of these men and women of honor, tell them how much they are appreciated.
So for all those who will answer the call, “Thank You” and may “God Bless You and your families” and the “Honor” in which you do your job every day.
Douglas K. Reiser
Great Bend