By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Trapped inside a vehicle after a traffic accident, the victim tried unsuccessfully to contain screams from the shooting pain that surged through the body.
Seconds after the accident call broadcast across emergency radios, the lights and sirens of first responders echoed through the area.
Joining the pieces of the crashed car littered across the roadway were the emergency workers, who gathered at the scene to assess the situation. It took only seconds before the Jaws of Life began cutting through the mangled metal of the vehicle. After careful and meticulous work, the windshield was peeled forward onto the hood as the roof of the vehicle was finally removed. A volunteer firefighter immediately wedged himself behind the seat where the victim was still immobilized, speaking words of encouragement as other rescue workers continued to cut through the twisted metal that had become a temporary prison.
The rescue mission furthered into the more delicate territory where the victim remained trapped, suffering from wounds stemming from the accident. Diligently, patiently, and carefully they worked, while motorists blocked in traffic watched their life-saving efforts.
After nearly a half hour, the mangled metal was finally released, the seats that held the driver in a private kind of hell were cut from their base and the victim was stabilized on an emergency transport cot.
The terrain of the accident presented another challenge of lifting the patient up a steep and rain-slickened embankment where an ambulance awaited. Several of these emergency workers slid back down the steep incline, soaking their shoes and uniforms in the attempt to save lives. Once the patient was safely en route to medical treatment, the first responders pack up their equipment and return to their various destinations.
Through the bitter cold, extreme heat, and tumulus weather including rain, snow, hail and ice, these dedicated volunteers continuously risk their own lives and their own safety for others. Their service is strictly voluntary but requires a high level of technical training that usually comes from their own pockets, as does the fuel and other related costs of their selfless efforts.
There is no “bill in the mail” for the services of these brave men and women who risk their own lives for the well-being of others. Yet, this year, the rescue squad and fire departments — all of whom are volunteer positions — experienced nearly $15,000 less in their budgets due to a decrease in coal severance funds from the state. That is $15,000 less to these agencies that risk life and limb to preserve the same for others.
A simple sacrifice of a pack of cigarettes, a cup of gourmet coffee, a six-pack of beer — or a combination of the above — would generate badly needed funding for these volunteer organizations that save the lives and property of Laurel County residents. If just 1,000 people of each community could spare $10 for their local fire department or the rescue squad, the funds would compensate for some of the financial losses they have faced in the past year. For those who have less financial struggles than some in our county, an early tax write-off donation would ensure the same outstanding services that we are currently accustomed to.
It is only fair and deserving that we the citizens make a small sacrifice for those volunteer emergency workers who make so many sacrifices on our behalf.
You never know — the next life they save could be your own.