Watching heroes work
A noted U.S. president once said that "life's greatest gift is the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing."
On the highway above Harbour Grace last week, many of us witnessed a group of heroes doing just that, but it wasn't for a paycheque.
For more than an hour, VOLUNTEER firefighters from Harbour Grace, Carbonear and Bay Roberts worked frantically and professionally at the scene of a horrific, violent two-vehicle crash near Danny's Lookout on Veterans Memorial Highway. You'll note that special emphasis is given to the word "volunteer."
It was a worst-case scenario for any emergency responder. The two vehicles had collided head-on, at highway speed, pinning both drivers — Spaniard's Bay resident Blaine DesRoches and William Earle from Shearstown, both in their 20s and the father of two young children — into their seats, their bodies battered and broken.
Within minutes, the emergency pagers carried by these volunteers crackled to life, and several dozen of them promptly reported for duty, not knowing what awaited them. At least one volunteer was accompanying his child to the bus stop for the start of a new school week, while others were getting ready to report to their civilian jobs in the classroom, the service or construction industries, with a municipality or in their own business. It would be far from a typical day. But true to form, these lionhearted volunteers ventured forward, doing their utmost to help save the lives of those in need. They donned their bunker suits, fired up their trucks and raced to the scene. To watch them in action was awe-inspiring. Despite the tragedy and suffering, these volunteers — hand-in-hand with paid professionals such as ambulance staff, highway enforcement and RCMP officers — worked for most of the morning on Nov. 5, freeing these two men from their crumpled cars.
They comforted and consoled the victims, provided emergency first-aid, and generally managed a scene that few would wish to stumble upon, much less be directly involved in.
But most impressively, they used specialized extrication tools known as the "Jaws of Life" to practically dismantle one of the vehicles in order to remove the driver.
Their training, skill and team work was clearly evident.
We have used this space in the past to commend our volunteer firefighters, but it bears repeating again, and we do it without hesitation.
Though Blaine DesRoches later died from his injuries, it was surely not from a lack of effort by these volunteers. They deserve our respect, support and praise.
— Terry Roberts