Community at a loss over accident

The tragic ambulance crash Tuesday morning that claimed the lives of an 82-year-old patient and a 31-year-old paramedic sent shockwaves throughout our entire community.

There was the initial shock of hearing the news about a fatal crash involving an ambulance, followed closely by sadness upon hearing that a patient and paramedic each had died. As more and more information became available, there was worry about the two other emergency responders who had also been hurt in the crash.

For many, the news itself was surreal.

Stephanie L. Callaway, the paramedic who lost her life in the accident, was a native of Sussex County, a wife and a mother. She was also a dedicated citizen who spent much of her professional life saving the lives of others who had been injured in crashes. The irony of her loss from an accident is hard to ignore, and nearly impossible to reconcile.

The tragedy extends beyond the immediate. Emergency responders from all corners of the world can relate to, and feel, the anguish and hurt of losing one of their own — but the local emergency responder community will feel this one for a long time

It is a thankless job they perform. Yes, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce does a wonderful job with their Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards, but that is a one-day event. The men and women who police our streets, respond to injured people and help put out our fires do it the proverbial “24-7.” They are a tight-knit group of people who relate to each other, if for no other reason, because they can best understand what it is they do, and what it takes to do it.

They do it out of duty, obligation and passion. And they do it incredibly well.

Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the emergency personnel injured in this horrible accident, and the families and friends of those who lost their lives. And we extend a heart-felt thanks to those emergency responders who feel this pain in their souls, yet continue to go out and protect the rest of us.