It's Celeste Turn column: Thankful for law enforcement, EMS, firefighters and more
The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.
As a newspaper reporter, one of my duties on the weekend when it is my shift, is to listen to the law enforcement scanner. We keep an ear out for bad crashes, structural fires or other unusual incidents we might need to cover.
Last weekend – the Fourth of July holiday weekend – was a busy one in the lakes area, especially for law enforcement agencies and emergency responders. I know as I was the one listening to the scanner.
And I would like to just give a gargantuan thank you to all law enforcement personnel, dispatchers, emergency responders, firefighters and emergency room workers who were on duty July 2-4. Wow, I don’t think I have ever heard the scanner squawk so much. It was non-stop.
I did a quick glance through the incident blotters for both the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Alexandria Police Department for that three-day period and there were about 20 crashes, about 10 fire-related calls, more than 30 medical calls and about eight fireworks complaints, which to be honest, I would have expected more of those, considering it was the Fourth of July weekend.
There were also a plethora of other calls for things like suspicious activity, theft, shoplifting, suspicious people, break-ins, water-related incidents and a mountain of other calls law enforcement had to respond to. There were also dozens of traffic stops for those who don’t know how to obey traffic laws, drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or still use their cell phones while driving to name a few.
Truly, it is mindblowing the number of calls that authorities respond to on any given day in our county.
I am one who is so incredibly thankful for our law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency responders and all those who have to respond to any and all calls in the Douglas County lakes area.
On Saturday night, the eve of the Fourth, the Alexandria Fire Department alone responded to four grass fire calls at four different locations that happened as a result of people lighting off fireworks. And those calls all happened within a short period of time.
Shortly after 10 p.m. that evening, a public service announcement was posted on the Alexandria Fire Department’s Facebook page urging the public to “please use due diligence with your fireworks.”
I understand that people wanted to let off fireworks in celebration of the independence holiday, but the conditions were super dry and with lawns looking more like straw or hay than actual grass, it is no wonder there were so many grass fires. People should have been more prepared. They should have had buckets of water at the ready or maybe, because of how incredibly dry it was, they should have maybe skipped the sparklers and firecrackers this year.
I know one thing for sure. Every time those tones went off on the scanner or chatter started, I just cringed wondering if it was going to be another fire and how bad it was going to be. I wondered if the next call was going to be more than just a minor crash. I wondered if the next firework complaint was going to include someone who was injured.
I wondered what our world would be like without all the men and women who respond to all those calls - calls that could be minor when someone who fell just needs some help getting up to calls that are tragic like a domestic assault that turns deadly or a fatal car crash or a house burning down.
I hope I never find out as that is a world I would not want to live in.
To all law enforcement personnel, firefighters, emergency responders, ER staff and anyone else who has to respond to the calls in our community, I want to personally thank you. You are all my heroes and please know that you have my support, gratitude and my trust. Thank you for all you do.
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.