Emergency crews honored at Pa. public service day

September 13, 2004|by DON AINES

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. - There was an open invitation for emergency services personnel to attend the New Guilford Brethren in Christ Church's third annual Public Service Day, but some could not make it Sunday.

Ken North, training chairman for the Franklin County Fire Chief's Association, said some Mont Alto, Pa., firefighters were at the county's training center near Chambersburg, Pa. At about the same time as the service, there was a house fire in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., according to a county 911 dispatcher.

County Commissioner Bob Thomas said some people probably think of police, ambulance and fire personnel about as often as they think about God.


"They think about God when they need Him, or are in distress or danger," Thomas said. In the same way, he said, the people who protect lives, property and freedom are sometimes taken for granted.

Memories of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are unlikely to fade for years, as communities across the nation hold annual ceremonies in remembrance of the approximately 3,000 people who died that day when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa. Sunday's service at the New Guilford Church, however, paid homage to those who still serve, as well as those who died that day.

"It's a day to honor our public servants and, again, to pray for those families whose lives were shattered," said Peggy Shank, an aide to U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th.

"We forget the infrastructure that is here to be at our rescue with the push of three little buttons, 911," said New Guilford Church Senior Pastor Omer King.

"Some of the toughest injuries are not physical at all," King said of those who serve the public. Sometimes the clash of wills among emergency personnel leave people emotionally wounded.

"We have our disagreements, but when the bells go off, we go out as a team," said Brian Mason, vice president of the Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Co.

"You join a fire company and people think, 'Hey I'm going to jump on a firetruck,'" Mason said.

A lot more time and training goes into firefighting than people think, he said.

While sacrifices are made, Susan Furry, assistant secretary for the Fayetteville fire company and a paramedic, told one woman that emergency personnel derive something from their work that is hard to come by in other professions.

"They call us adrenaline junkies. We like the action of it," she said.

In the parking lot, children were chased by a robotic Dalmatian remotely piloted by North, while others tried on heavy firefighting gear or sat astride a Pennsylvania State Police motorcycle.

Mont Alto firefighter Jamie Reed said it was nice to get a pat on the back from the church while also getting a chance "to show off a little bit of equipment."

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