Watch­ing heroes work

The Compass - - OPINION -

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

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