Crossing the small imaginary line into emergency services

Published 11:36 am Friday, May 31, 2024

A camera lens and notepad is all that separated me from a house fire on Macedonia Road this past September and other wildfires throughout the fall. I spent almost every week of September writing stories about firefighters running calls it seems.

I had started to wonder if maybe there was a way I could serve beyond reporting on the events in our community. The statement “We need more volunteers,” from a young man at the Macedonia fire is what pulled me over the small imaginary line separating normal people from first responders. 

Anyone can be a first responder but not everyone is called to the role. That is okay because not everyone is called to be a preacher or a teacher either. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

From talking with several people who serve as first responders, I’ve learned it takes a special heart, passion and attitude to serve in your community. A desire to help people and care for your community should be the driving motivation. 

The night Stahl-Urban burned is seared into my memory. While several people stood and watched the inferno from one side of Main Street, others went towards the flames and flying embers to protect nearby homes and structures. It was a night where first responders from the city, county and state worked together. 

In the five months I’ve been with one of our eight volunteer fire departments, I’ve learned so much about this community. There are people who leave work, leave dinner, leave their families to help others in need. Some have done it for close to 30 years without pay as volunteers. We appreciate all who serve. 

I’ve been part of football, soccer and cross country teams but nothing can compare to the brotherhood of volunteer firefighters working a fire call. In those instances, you are working alongside fellow community members and you are part of something bigger than yourself. 

If you find yourself feeling called to serve as a first responder for a career or as a volunteer I strongly encourage you to pursue it. My only regret is I didn’t step across the small imaginary line soon enough.