Cecil honors first responders with appreciation dinner
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— Community members joined law enforcement, firefighters and emergency officials to show their appreciation for first responders at the Cecil County First Responders Appreciation Dinner on Friday evening at Singerly Banquet Hall.
First responders from various Cecil County departments were recognized for their service.
Elkton Police Chief Matthew Donnelly accompanied his department’s honoree, Cpl. Todd Finch, to the dinner. Donnelly said Finch, who was named the department’s Officer of the Year last year, has displayed impressive dedication in his
service to the people of Cecil County.
“He’s an excellent officer,” Donnelly said. “He’s an advanced traffic accident investigator, obviously holds the rank of corporal. [He] does great investigations, makes criminal arrests, traffic arrests.”
Finch said he sees a bit of a disconnect between citizens and first responders, and he wishes people would better understand what police officers are tr ying to do.
“I think the biggest thing they should know is we’re there when they need us and they shouldn’t be afraid to help us help them, and also use us as a resource when they need us,” he said. “Give us that opportunity to be able to come and provide whatever assistance we can. That’s what we’re here for.”
Bridging that gap will require effort on both sides, Finch said.
“I think the norm in society nowadays is to avoid that, but we’ve got to be able to help them understand that there’s more to being in law enforcement or being law enforcement than just the bad stuff,” he said.
Finch explained that the job of police isn’t merely to arrest people; they are often the first and last on scene during medical emergencies.
Donnelly said he appreciates the efforts of the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce, which started the appreciation dinner as a way for the community to show they care about the work first responders do.
“It’s great for the first responders to be recognized by community members,” he said. “I think it instills confidence in continuing doing the job at the highest level possible.”
He reminded people that at the end of a shift, first responders look forward to going home to their families just like everyone else.
“First responders are people too,” he said. “They’re husbands, they’re wives, some of them have children and families.”
Patricia Deamond, a board director and immediate past president of the North East Fire Company, became involved with the fire company when she married her late husband, H. Terry Deamond, who was a past chief and president.
“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” she said. “So I joined ‘em.”
Patricia emphasized the importance of honoring first responders because many of them work odd hours and serve the community on a voluntary basis.
“They go whenever there is a call regardless of the hours, all day and night, regardless of the weather,” she said. “There is no 9 to 5.”
Cecil County Sheriff’s Office Dfc. Joseph McCabe said he enjoys the unexpected nature of his job.
“There’s no average day. Every day is different … I love not knowing,” he said.
McCabe, who handles a lot of serious crashes, said he tries to be sympathetic to what people are going through and make them feel even a little bit better.
“Every person we deal with is probably having the worst day of their life,” he said. “So we have to treat them that way.”
Michael and Kristin Hughes, owners of Servpro of Cecil County and one of the dinner’s sponsors, said they attended to show their gratitude for first responders.
“We’re a communitybased business and we wanted to help support the local community,” Michael said. “We also honor our first responders and we greatly appreciate the services that they provide.”
Servpro provides water and fire cleanup and restoration services, so the business often interacts with first responders after crime or fire scenes, Michael said.
“They’re there addressing and taking care of things, and we kind of come in after the fact,” he said.
Kristin said it is important to pay tribute to the men and women who protect the community from harm and help people pick up the pieces when incidents do occur.
“Their lives are on the line every day,” she said
Michael added that first responders are an integral part of the Cecil County community.
“They’re a line of defense,” he said. “They keep us secure. They take care of our local community. They’re there when something happens with our own personal property or home … It’s a very honorable position, and people who volunteer and put their time and effort into it deserve the gratitude.”
Elkton Police Chief Matthew Donnelly, left, accompanied Cpl. Todd Finch to the appreciation dinner. Finch was honored for his service within EPD.