On duty for the holidays

Christmas has come and gone; fortunately it passed peacefully for most local residents.

If the worst had happened, though, qualified people were ready and willing to respond. All across the region, law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel, doctors, nurses and firefighters were on duty or on call, patrolling the highways, treating the ill and injured, and standing by in case a fire or accident should occur.

Shift Lt. Curtis Kyer at the Cumberland Trail Fire District said the district keeps a minimum of seven firefighters on duty every day. That schedule has firefighters working 24 hours and then off for 48 hours.

“What that means is, in your career you’re going to work holidays. You’re going to work Christmas, you’re going to work Thanksgiving, you’re going to work birthdays. There’s nothing you can do about it unless you’ve scheduled to be off for that,” Kyer said. “When you have seven guys on a shift, not everyone can be home with their families.”

And that was the case at police stations, firehouses and hospitals throughout our community on Tuesday.

Jim Delman, Belmont County 911 deputy director, told our reporter that first responders and dispatchers must conduct business as usual every day, even on Christmas. Sgt. Todd McDonald of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said troopers would be working through the holidays, patrolling the roads and helping to keep motorists safe.

Sometimes people working these crucial jobs trade assigned shifts to allow those with young children to spend time at home on Christmas. In other cases, families are allowed to visit the department headquarters for a shared meal or party – but those on duty must remain ready to respond.

Because they know how important it is that emergency responders are always available, local businesses and residents often donate food or other gifts to responders on such holidays. That is appropriate and generous, and we thank the individuals and organizations that help make the holidays a little brighter for these hard-working men and women.

We truly appreciate the dedication of all the first responders who remained vigilant on Christmas so that the rest of us could feel at ease while celebrating. We also offer our thanks in advance to those who will do the same next week while we ring in 2019.