Native Writes: Police, firefighters, EMS garner respect


Each day, there’s news about a first responder somewhere in Colorado being killed or injured while on duty.

Growing up in a family of firefighters and law enforcement types, I learned early to respect and support the boys and girls in blue, as well as the people in heavy suits who took amazing risks to keep everyone else safe.

It seemed as if the danger was less when I was a teenager and my dad made it seem so every time I was lucky enough to drive the family car.

Given the size of communities in the San Luis Valley, there was good reason for it.

With the police and fire radio sounding near my desk daily, there are many cases where life is in danger but it won’t be national news.

Sometimes, officers or EMTs respond to calls that might be considered insignificant until it’s a drug overdose or someone acting stupid due to alcohol consumption.

Our Valley’s weather adds to the danger.

My dad drove the fire engine at night, beginning with a cabless Brockway and wintering without a cab until about 1955 when the department acquired an engine with a closed cab. I’m not sure he was worried about the genitals of a male monkey, but he was grateful that they were no longer in danger.

Our economy doesn’t revolve around snowfall, but it is often the coldest place anywhere in the state.

So it is with great sorrow that I learned a young firefighter fell to his death fighting a fire in a multi-storied condo. It’s ski time in Summit County and there are thousands of extra people there. One gets used to it, but nature plays tricks.

We live more safely here, despite wildfires and flaming haystacks.

People stop at accident scenes, house fires, two-car crashes and look, bringing concern for the safety of emergency vehicles and first responders. Just keep going, please.

I noticed recently in police and sheriff’s reports that a young woman was ticketed for not yielding to an emergency vehicle that was headed to a scene. The fine’s enough to catch her attention.

A new law, one that’s important to everyone on the roads, is to slow down and travel into the left lane when one sees a law enforcement officer out of his or her vehicle and talking with a motorist who has been stopped.

It also applies to firefighters and their rigs.

Don’t go where you don’t belong.

Be safe as the new year approaches.

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