Within the span of three hours on Friday morning, emergency calls rang out from opposite ends of the Valley to start what turned out to be an extraordinarily busy news day.
Before 9 a.m., multiple calls came for a huge fire at Keller Marine & RV in Port Trevorton, which quickly turned into a multiple-alarm inferno that brought firefighters from all over the region to battle the blaze along Routes 11/15. Several hours later a call came to a head-on collision between Danville and Northumberland on Route 11.
In the case of the fire at Keller's, hundreds of firefighters from more than 20 companies came from four different counties, including Northumberland, Perry, Snyder and Union.
Responders, ranging from police to ambulance services to firefighters from Northumberland and Montour counties, quickly descended upon the accident scene where three cars were involved.
In both instances first responders were on the scene within minutes and stayed until their job was done. Whether the job included putting out a raging inferno or extricating seriously injured people from vehicles, they did it without complaint, because it is, simply, what they do.
"Job" is the key word here because for many who dropped everything to help people they likely did not know, there was no punching in on the clock. Nearly every firefighter in our region is a volunteer, whose true interest lies in helping others when they need it most.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were more than 1.1 million firefighters in the United States and nearly 70 percent of them were volunteers.
Don't let the volunteer moniker fool you, however. While these people do not get paid for their services, they are exceedingly qualified and are as professional as any paid firefighter you will ever see. Many of them spend weekends away from home learning the latest life-saving techniques or how to utilize modern fire-fighting equipment. They are part of our communities, spending time in our schools and will still show up to get pets out of trees.
Like many other regions in the United States, we in the Susquehanna Valley are blessed to have such dedicated and passionate emergency responders.
In droves these heroes show up at all hours and in all types of weather. They often leave their own families to help and ask for little in reward. These are not "I" people, they are "we" people and we need to recognize their considerable contributions and sacrifices.