In my not quite three-and-a-half years here at the Banner Graphic, I have been to my fair share of crashes and fires. As such, I have developed good rapports — or at least acquaintances — with many of our fire, police and medical personnel along the way.
Emergency situations are among the most stressful events we report on. The challenge is trying to be as timely as possible while still being accurate with all the details. We greatly depend on their trust and willingness to work with us. What underscores this is an appreciation for their sacrifices and professionalism in service to our communities.
Our Salute to Putnam County's First Responders is a celebration of that dedication. It is our modest way of expressing our gratitude for what they all do day in and day out. Indeed, I hope that the stories, and especially the photos, included here can give a real sense of what we are able to see up close as journalists as well as community members.
Some incidents might only result in a few scrapes and bruises, while others can end in tragedy. The fatal crash on State Road 42 last June was a singular moment where I shared a powerful experience with the first responders who were at the scene. There was nothing objective about how I felt, and maybe this is part of the crux behind this column. It affirmed that though we each had a job to do, we were still humans being.
Following the crash, Putnam County sheriff's deputy Scott Ducker had this to say: "No textbooks or websites or professors or college degrees or anything can prepare you for the everyday roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions." There was a silver lining in how this resonated after seeing their grace and determination in spite of the odds.
All of the burdens and frustrations which our emergency response teams must endure are never lost on me. It still bears reiterating that these stressors remain compounded by COVID. Mitigating the uncertain takes a true team effort in times like this, and our health care workers can certainly be counted among the personnel we recognize here.
It is a privilege to be part of such efforts, no matter how removed it might seem at times. I see our role as your committed local news source being a partner of sorts. As I have and continue to iterate, connections are what drive our work. By the same token, this partnership also demands respecting the professional and ethical boundaries we have.
It comes down to trust and cooperation, as well as enthusiasm, on both ends. I do not take either of these for granted. The relationships we have built and will continue to foster rely on each of these aspects. My hope is that this outlook can be encouraged more in the community as a whole. This publication is an example of that aspiration.
We hope that our local first responders — career as well as volunteer — recognize how much we appreciate them being there when we need them. In turn, I encourage our readers to tell them "Thank you." They might never expect it, but they each deserve it.
This post was published in the 2021 edition of the Banner Graphic's Salute to Putnam County's First Responders.