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First responders react to marathon tragedy

Anthony Gonzalez
Staff Writer

10 months 25 days 19 hours ago |5 Views | | | Email | Print

American resilience was once again tested last week in Boston, when bombs erupted and caused injury, panic, and havoc to innocent bystanders cheering Boston Marathon participants at the finish line.


Flags waved at half-staff at municipalities, police and fire departments, and even churches throughout the country. It was not different in Elkin.


According to police, the suspects related to the Boston Marathon bombings are either deceased or are in custody. A surviving suspect remained in serious condition in a Boston hospital on Sunday, unable to speak due to injuries to his neck and tongue sustained while on the run from police, officials said.


The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has been unable to interview Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told CBS television. Authorities may never be able to speak with him, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said.


Closer to home, fire officials gave their perspective on what it takes to respond to a potential tragedy.


“We don’t have that obvious exposure, but we train for the hit,” said Tommy Wheeler, chief of the Elkin Fire Department. Wheeler expressed condolences for those who lost their lives in the bombing. “I just think that it if ever comes time for something as senseless at that over here, we’re prepared to apply the knowledge of what needs to get done.”


“It’s an eerie connection to 9-11 and what first responders had to deal with,” said Austin fire Chief Billy Vanhoy, who was handing out pork dinners at the volunteer firehouse fundraiser held on Saturday. “Though it was not at the 9-11 scale, nobody from around here can even make sense of what happened in Boston. And you have to wonder what else, and where.”


According to Chief Vanhoy, he says that everyone in his department wouldn’t even think twice and would respond, even if it were in Boston with the likelihood of a third bomb going off.


“Rescuing people is what we do,” said Chief Vanhoy. “And that’s why we spend so much time with each other; it requires constant training. Sometimes we have to spend more time with each other than our families. We hate pointing to tragedies, but we have to prepare.”


“Firefighters are there to step into any situation. I know the first thing you do is look out for those around you. Most of the time you can run into an emergency situation and you’re not worried about yourself. Protecting lives is first. Then its property. Then its yourself. The dangers are there,” said Chief Wheeler.


“I hope we never have anything like that around here though,” said Chief Wheeler.


Chief Wheeler was about to make another comment, but a loud beeping noise interrupted the conversation.


“That’s an emergency call. We have to respond,” he said.


Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 336-835-1513 or via email at agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.

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