"Speak Out" is an expression of opinion from the Editorial Board of WBTV, and is presented by General Manager, Scott Dempsey.
In the past two months, families, friends, and co-workers have had to mourn the deaths of three of our best and brightest – firefighters Bradley Long, Richard Sheltra and Joshua Warren.
Mr. Long, a Captain with the Newton Fire Dept., lost his life while searching for a missing swimmer in Lake Norman.
Mr. Sheltra, with the Pineville Volunteer Fire Dept., died while battling the flames in a local shopping center.
Mr. Warren was a part-time firefighter for Alexis, East Lincoln and Lucia-Riverbend. He died while exercising on-duty, just after coming back from a medical emergency call.
All of these losses are tragic reminders that the kinds of jobs they perform are very high risk. And the rewards – in terms of financial compensation – can never be high enough.
But our first responders – firefighters, law enforcement, and EMS staffers – were never in it for the money. To them, it's a calling. They selflessly want to help others. Their reward is giving a potential victim a second chance at life.
Currently, there is no national First Responders Day. But let's not wait for that possible day to show our appreciation.
Next time, ANY time you see a first responder, tell him or her "Thank you." "Thank you" for saving others at the possible risk of your own life. "Thank you" for being plain folks just like the rest of us…but also, a little more special.
"Rest in peace" Bradley Long, Richard Sheltra and Josh Warren, and "Godspeed" to those who continue your work.