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First responders deserve support

It’s been a rough few months for tragic accidents. It’s been one of those times when terrible things happen in quick succession, and there isn’t really any common thread to connect them. Some deaths and injury accidents have been on the roads; others have been in the water. Many have been local residents, while others have been travelers from near and far.

But then again, there is a common thread to all of these, and that is the brave emergency personnel who respond to them.

Some are full-time professionals who have devoted their careers to helping people out in the worst of times, such as police officers, paramedics, fire drivers, forest rangers and — often forgotten because they aren’t necessarily at the scene of the incident — emergency room nurses and funeral home directors.

We think it’s important to add news reporters to this list. First responders are usually too busy at the time to manage mass communication, so it is the professional journalist’s role to inform people of information that is available and appropriate for them to know. We strive to do so responsibly.

Beyond the professionals, there are those such as coroners who do this work part-time for minimal pay. And then there are the pure volunteers, such as the firefighters. They are actually more than volunteers in that they, or their department, must pay and make time for extensive training and expensive equipment.

These volunteers respond to every call and are often the first ones on the scene of a death. With water incidents, it often falls to the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department, the only one in the area that maintains a trained dive team. Earlier this week, those dive team members were the ones who found and removed the body of a New York City fisherman in Lower Saranac Lake.

Responding to this kind of call can be traumatic, especially for someone new to this kind of thing. But even those who have done it dozens of times before are shaken. They have an even deeper appreciation of what is at stake for those involved and their families.

And there is a lot at stake. It is horrible to find out a family member or friend has died in a brutal accident. We understand and share in mourning.

At the same time we celebrate the people who choose to serve others in the worst of times. They need the support of the Tri-Lakes communities. Please be generous in donating to your local fire and rescue departments. Consider volunteering yourself, and or encourage others to do so.

First responders do the tough work for the rest of us. They deserve our appreciation and respect.

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