First responders valor is deserving of awards, and more

There’s no question that, when it’s your home, your money, your child, your life being threatened by an emergency, you appreciate the efforts put into catching a criminal, putting out a fire, restarting a heart. But it’s easy to forget when it’s not you and yours on the line that the people who help us out of these terrifying circumstances are our neighbors, our friends, our family members, and even total strangers who risk their lives to protect ours.

The community got a chance this week to thank those who protect the rest of us. The Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards are the one opportunity the communty gets each year to let these first-
responders know how much we appreciate them and what they do.

This year, the Valor Awards nominations offered particularly poignant stories of our local police, firefighters and EMTs going above and beyond the call of their usual duties to help the rest of us.

Fenwick Island Police Officer Jennifer Kerin was a standout during Superstorm Sandy, risking her own safety to ensure that the residents of her town who hadn’t evacuated were safe, even when most of the town was flooded. And she thought outside the box to do that, finding a kayak to make her rounds when the town’s four-wheelers were out of commission due to the rising waters.

That’s the kind of action, and caring, that could mean the difference between life and death, and Kerin risked all to ensure that no one would be abandoned during the storm. Four EMTs, five firefighters and another three police officers were all heralded last week for their efforts, and their stories, too, serve as reminders of how important their work is. These people literally save lives.

But if there’s a lingering mark beyond those lives saved, it may be the impact they have on, and through, our community’s future generations. Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company?Assistant Chief Tom Moore not only helped save a victim of cardiac arrest, he enlisted the help of his young son in doing so, offering both opportunity and example.

Millville VFC?Capt. R.J. Kauffman helped a 2-year-old survive a choking incident, only to discover the boy was his own cousin. And 18-year-old Selbyville firefighter Gunnar Haas has already shown that he is the future of our first-responders, working from the age of 14 to become a firefighter and EMT, and, someday, a paramedic, just like his dad. And we cannot forget Dagsboro Junior Firefighter Justin Townsend, 17, who lost his life last year, rushing to a fire call.

Even if we only take one special day in February to honor them, the valor demonstrated by Townsend and his peers is deserving of recognition 365 days a year.