Thank our first responders

Published 11:35am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Amid the awfulness of last week — the terrifying images of bombs at the end of the Boston Marathon, the explosion of a fertilizer plant in Texas, even the strange arrest of an Elvis impersonator accused of sending poison-laced letters to the president — we have been reminded how important is the job of our first responders.

Ten of the 14 people killed in the plant explosion in West, Texas, were first responders — firefighters and emergency medical technicians who came to the plant to try to contain the fire that likely caused the explosion. Four of those killed were EMTs who had just finished a training class nearby and ran to help.

In Boston, firefighters, police and EMTs were among those who saved lives — and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was allegedly killed by the suspected bombers, shortly before another police officer was critically wounded in a shootout with the brothers.

Here in Atmore, our community lost one of its long-time first responders when retired Assistant Fire Chief Mike Staples passed away suddenly Tuesday afternoon. Staples was one of those people usually among the first on the scene, among the first to head toward danger.

As I watched people cheer the police in Boston Friday night just after the arrest of the second bombing suspect, I thought of all of those police and sheriff’s deputies and firefighters and EMTs we encounter every day on our jobs at the newspaper.
I had spent the night tracking the story of the suspect’s capture on TV and online; if my heart was pounding, I couldn’t imagine how the officers felt that night — or how any of our first responders feels in dangerous situations.

Whether it is in a tiny Texas town, in big-city Boston or here at home, our law enforcement and first responders are there to protect us. One of the police officers celebrating with Boston residents even remarked to a reporter Friday night that it was surreal to be so welcomed.

Police, firefighters and other first responders don’t often get much credit — in fact, they are often criticized — but they put their lives on the line for us every day.

They deserve our thanks.

Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at

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