Herald and Journal Herald & Journal, October 20, 1997

Firefighters don't get enough credit

By ANDREA VARGO

The hard fall sunshine struck the shards of broken glass and twisted metal, as I came on the scene of purposeful activity surrounding the second school bus accident in two weeks on Highway 12.

Children were removed from the bus on backboards by the Cokato Fire Department, assisted by the Howard Lake Fire Department personnel.

Firemen and women work hard! It is not some glamorous, "hey, look at me," job. It is serious and dangerous.

These people are so amazing. As editor of the Herald, I have watched them in action numerous times over the past year, at fires and accidents.

Their professionalism and abilities are wonderful, but they also care.

When the Humphrey Museum burned, Waverly and Howard Lake firefighters saved a great deal from the flames and water.

According to bystanders, they went in as soon as it was reasonably safe, but the building was still burning.

In addition to burning buildings, I attended several car fires this past year. Firemen removed personal items from those cars, when possible, for their owners. They didn't have to, but they did.

The Maple Lake area was my home for many years, and I recall comments about the wonderful fire department there.

How wonderful can a fire department be, I thought. They spray water on fires. As usual, nothing is so simple.

The fact that they could get to a fire in a certain number of minutes was nice, but I was very fortunate to never have seen them in action.

A year ago, my parents had a fire from a lightning strike. While some of the Maple Lake firemen worked on the flames, others took furniture and keepsakes out of harm's way.

I don't think saving plants and knickknacks is in the training manual.

They treated my parents with respect and consideration, way above and beyond what I would have believed possible.

Firefighters and their emergency personnel do more than put out fires and take victims to the hospital in an ambulance.

Last week was fire safety week. The pre-school children in Howard Lake got a visit from fireman Merlyn "Pete" Drusch.

I watched as he explained the equipment to the tiny tots. He said, "This mask might look a little scary when I put it on. If you get scared, tell me and I'll take it off."

We don't think about explaining these things to our kids on a regular basis. How many of us discuss fire safety with our children.

Thank goodness the fire departments do this for us. Can you imagine a little child, hiding under a bed in a burning home, because he or she is afraid of the way the fireman looks?

The careful way this man went about educating these kids, so as not to scare them, was good to see.

In Howard Lake and Waverly, these men are dedicated and well-trained. As I get to know them better, I am very glad they are there for me, if something happens.


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