What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Here at COAST, we’re filled with gratitude for the first responders who rush in to face disasters head-on while others run away. Firefighters, police officers, coast guardsmen, volunteers – as a nation, we are indebted to these groups of extraordinary individuals who are willing to put their own lives at risk in order to help others.
As the country continues to process Hurricane Sandy’s impact, stories of horrific loss are matched with tales of incredible bravery. Often brandishing little more than an emergency LED flashlight and their own courage, first responders across the East Coast saved thousands of people from dire circumstances, often while their own families were also struggling with the storm’s aftermath. Here are a few of our favorite examples:
- John Frankowski, a volunteer firefighter in Brick Township, N.J., worked eight-hour shifts responding to emergency calls in the days following Sandy – and then went to his night job as a facilities inspector for local schools. And he did all of this despite the fact that his own home was flooded.
- First responders got creative about how to extract residents from flooding homes. In Brigantine, Pa., a wheelchair-bound woman was rescued via surfboard and truck. “This was our department’s finest hour,” said Chief Jim Holl of the Brigantine fire department.
- Similarly, the Queens fire department battled flames from flooded streets and rescued stranded apartment dwellers by boat.
- Once the first wave of emergency services was through, many volunteers stayed on to help local public works departments clear roads blocked by trees.
- Coast Guard members saved 14 people from a sinking ship off the coast of North Carolina. When he reached the stranded passengers, the rescue swimmer said, “I’m Dan, and I hear you guys need a ride.”
As the East Coast regains power and life returns to normalcy, there’s plenty to be grateful for. This Thanksgiving, you can honor the amazing work of our first responders by doing your own part to be prepared for a disaster. Gather your own emergency kit with non-perishable food and an emergency LED flashlight for each member of your family. Gather back-up batteries for each emergency LED flashlight. Come up with a meeting spot in case your family is separated during a disaster. Small steps like this may seem insignificant, but each prepared family lessens the rescue burdens on first responders across the country.
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