Volunteers show courage

Whenever a community experiences trauma from floods or storms, or people become victims of a fire or car accident, we depend on the courage and dedication of first responders.

We tend to take them for granted; we shouldn’t.

Assemblyman Marc Butler, Dottie MacVean – a member of Butler’s staff – and Jim Landrio of the Holiday Inn in Johnstown recently took the time to make sure the many rescuers and first responders involved in the search for the victims of the May 25 Angel Flight plane crash in Ephratah were told firsthand they are not taken for granted.

More than 100 public safety officials and volunteers from Fulton, Montgomery, Herkimer and surrounding counties were involved in the initial response to the scene of the plane crash, and many continued to be involved for the weeks that followed in the search for the body of the last victim. These are amazing individuals who routinely put their lives on hold to help others.

Firefighters, emergency personnel, law enforcement, dispatchers, search-and-rescue teams and ambulance crew representatives accepted the appreciation from the assemblyman at a public event on behalf of all those involved with their teams.

The event also brought to light an organization that was not well known in our area. Angel Flight Northeast – which runs 100 flights a week, logging 13 million miles over the years – has helped 63,000 children and adults needing medical services in its 17 years. This group of volunteers lost one of its own in the May 25 crash. It was surprising when founder Larry Camerlin said this was the first time the group had received a public expression of appreciation.

He didn’t talk for long about the work of his group of volunteers, but looked out at the others and said, “You never gave up … You never stopped looking. What you did for that family will last a lifetime. I just say, ‘God bless you all’ for never giving up. You are truly our heroes and our saints.”

We newspaper professionals often witness the actions of first responders and rescue volunteers at emergency scenes. We carry with us our note pads, cameras and questions. Along with those tools of our trade, we carry a genuine respect for first responders.