Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 9-6-10
September 7, 2010
We talk about volunteering quite often and most of the time it is easy to work it into our schedules. But emergency responders have no schedule and it really came to light last week. We were in church bidding goodbye to longtime friend and long-lived county resident, Fred. He had passed away after deteriorating from cancer. Besides the fact that he had lived his entire 72 years in Fall River County – except for his college time – he had also been a 4-H leader, community and church leader and friend to so many.
As the pastor was presiding over the service word came that there was a fire a few miles south. Seven men, volunteers all, from the local community got up and left the service to go fight the blaze. Somehow it was fitting to see volunteerism in action on that day.
Just four days earlier a thunderstorm with 2 inches of rain passed through our place. Generally that gives relief to firefighters as most lightning caused fires are extinguished by the rains. A rainy day is always an invitation for a catnap and we had gotten started on that project when we were told a neighbor’s house was on fire. It had been struck by lightning.
It was fortunate that the neighbor’s son was at home because the house sits behind several trees and it undoubtedly would have been engulfed and too far gone if no one was there to sound the alarm. The Oral Volunteer Fire Department responded and called on the Hot Springs Volunteer Fire Department for mutual aid since it was a structure fire. Hot Springs is more set up for those. Oral generally fights grass fires. Although we have 911, addressing the layout is not familiar to those who don’t frequent the area. Consequently I went to Oral and met the requested backup firemen to lead them to the scene. It saves valuable minutes. In this case the fire was seven miles outside of Oral, the road winds around and the house sets over a hill. The fire had been knocked down and little smoke was visible so that wouldn’t have been a guide.
An ambulance that was not led to the scene got lost and eventually showed up. It is standard operating procedure for them to respond to structure fires. Everything was fine and the fire departments were mopping up when the EMTs received a call to go to a different emergency. One of the ambulance personnel picked up his radio to call the fire chief asking to be released. The chief was standing 10 feet away and I could see he didn’t have his radio. I asked the EMT, “Why don’t you just ask him in person?” and I took him to the fire chief. To be fair, he wouldn’t have had knowledge of which man was in charge as they are from different towns and services but it was funny just the same.
We are grateful for all of our area volunteers and realize they are always on call, even during the funeral service of an old friend.
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Peggy writes from southwestern South Dakota and her Internet latchstring is always out at Peggy@PeggySanders.com.