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Putting our first responders first

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Throughout recent days the deadly wildfire ravaging our neighboring community has reminded us how quickly Mother Nature can change thousands of lives forever in a way like we have never seen before.

Although the Camp Fire is some 85 miles from Auburn, we feel the pain and loss of our neighbors. Many local residents have friends and loved ones who have suffered great loss in the recent days, others are housing evacuees in their local homes as well.

Our local fire departments throughout Placer County are contributing to the battle against this tragic fire with support staff and various equipment.

There is much discussion, and surely there will be much more on who and what is to blame for this most recent tragedy. While much of that uncertainty will be lingering around what is deadliest fire in California history, one thing is for certain, our first responders are true heroes. These men and women deserve every bit of support we can give them. Not just now, but always and that is something we surely should direct our attention to.

In the case of the Camp Fire, upon arrival first responders learned this was major incident and human life was at stake. The focus at this point became evacuation and rescue as the priority over fighting flames. In this moment, it was our first responders who demonstrated a level of bravery similar to those who serve in the military and risk their lives for others in combat.

Their physical and mental toughness is unique, as few people are willing to charge through walls of flames to save others, flames that were taking many of their own homes as well. They do this out of a sense of duty and commitment to others.

When our first responders strap into a vehicle and head to a scene, they are briefed on the nature of the call, however, oftentimes those situations or conditions can drastically intensify before arrival.

In the case of a first responder, they don’t have a choice to turn around and return to work another day, nor would they want to. Saving lives is their mission and their passion, putting their own lives on the line is the risk they take to serve that mission and fulfill their passion. In many cases, the wages earned by these individuals does not even come close to pay for the risks they take, and some are volunteers, but it’s not about that.

If it wasn’t for these men and women willing to put their lives on the line to protect and serve our communities, chaos would consume us and tragedies such as the Camp Fire would be even more catastrophic than they already are. While that may not seem possible, in reality it is.

It’s common fact that our first responders are often the first person a new life sees and, in many cases, the last person they see. In cases such as last week, they are also the person that can lead an individual to safety who may have otherwise perished or become badly injured. Even when they are faced with the grim reality of major injury or the loss of life, they are there to comfort and console those who are suffering.

Since the days this devastating fire began, many in the community have reached out to help. Some are collecting clothing, food and supplies to help those that now have nothing to their name and are restarting their lives. Others are launching fundraisers through their businesses and organizations, many of which have taken the opportunity to announce on the open fire relief posting of the Auburn Journal Facebook page.

As we help those who have suffered loss, let’s also make sure that we recognize and show the utmost appreciation for our first responders, locally and afar. While many of us will remain in disbelief and feel the pain of what has taken place in this tragedy, they too will feel much of the same. However, they will return to the line of duty tomorrow and do it all over again, day after day.

To all the men and woman that serve our communities as first responders, we thank you for everything you do.