When something bad happens, he or she might wish for that person to miraculously appear and make everything better.
There are real-life superheroes, but they don’t wear capes. They are our first responders.
Last week, this newspaper published stories each day to express support for and thanks to these heroes as part of First Responders Appreciation Week. In a four-part series, the Reflector focused on career and volunteer firefighters, law enforcement officers and the emergency medical teams.
I had the privileged of writing this series. Not only did I talk with nearly 20 people who save people’s lives, I also participated in ride-alongs with the Norwalk police and fire departments.
These ride-alongs — which are open for other community members to experience — allowed this reporter to see just what our first responders go through on a daily basis to keep us safe.
It really touched me to hear the first-hand experiences these men and women have had, pulling people from fires, rushing to the scene of an accident, helping to deliver a baby in the middle of the intersection or even restoring life to someone who died — and then to have that individual not understand or appreciate the precious gift that had been restored.
On Wednesday, I witnessed five local firefighters train during a mock crash. The men worked non-stop, with sweat pouring down their faces as they pulled three “people” from a head-on collision between a semi and a car. The vehicles were real; the people weren’t. The firefighters flayed the car, both inside and out, like it was real.
Also real was the intensity with which they worked against the clock, trying to save the “passenger,” the drive as they refused to tap out despite actually being tired (even though they’d never admit it at the time) and the care they took in doing everything just so.
The firefighters, as well as the police and EMS, have to train like everyone’s life depend upon them at that moment.
Fire Chief John Soisson said some of the things first responders train for are scenarios handled maybe once or twice in their entire career. When those “high risk, low frequency” situations do arise, the real-life people on the other side are depending on the first responders handling it with professionalism, care and precision — as if they did it every day.
The real-life situations come with real-life dangers.
Another thing that struck me in these ride-alongs is how many things our first responders have to take into consideration, and at all times.
The police are encouraged to drive with their windows down so they can see and hear if anything is going on around them that they might be able to assist with. It wasn’t warm or dry during the morning that I rode around town with Lt. Jim Fulton, but those windows stayed down.
Police Chief Mike Conney said our city’s officers aren’t the kind to drive by and pass up someone in need just because they didn’t make a call to 9-1-1. If they see something, they do something.
Perhaps the most impressive facet of the this past week was the degree of compassion and true good heartedness among Huron County’s first responders.
Every first responder has so much asked of them, doing more than some people would ever dream of doing. While some people might become jaded and calloused by the dark and difficult nature of the often thankless jobs they have, our local first responders seem to stay positive. Here, the men and women behind the uniform actually want to help people, not just do their job and move on.
“The (first responders) and their commitment — that’s what makes the difference,” Soisson said.
This week taught me to appreciate all first responders even more. No matter the situation, they just want to help you. After seeing the desire, drive and love for the community these men and women have, I genuinely believe that.
Thank you, first responders! You are our superheroes.