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Answering the call, wherever, whenever

This past weekend, two incidents just across the Beaufort County line demanded the attention of local first responders. One was the tragic drowning of an off-duty Greenville firefighter in the Tar River on Sunday. The second, a search for a missing teenager in Bear Grass, ended on a happier note, with the young woman being found safe and sound after more than 24 hours of searching.

While these incidents were miles apart, totally unrelated and outside of the typical coverage areas for Beaufort County emergency personnel, they both had one thing in common. In both cases, men and women from specialized teams in Beaufort County answered calls for help from agencies in neighboring counties.

The members of Chocowinity Search and Rescue, who helped search the woods of Bear Grass for the missing girl for most of the day on Sunday, are not paid. Neither are the members of the Sidney Dive Team or the Bunyan Fire Department, who spent Sunday and Monday trying to recover the remains of the Greenville firefighter from the Tar River, helping another agency dealing with a painful loss.

So, why do they do it?

We certainly can’t speak for the individuals who choose to do so. Each has his or her own reasons. But from the outside looking in, there appears to be one thing in common — a desire to help others.

This week, our local first responders were a part of reuniting a lost child with her family. They were also part of an effort to bring closure for the loved ones of a man who tragically lost his life. It’s not the first time they’ve crossed county lines to help others, and it certainly won’t be the last.

It didn’t matter that these incidents weren’t in their district. It didn’t matter that it was the weekend, a time they could be spending with their families. Wherever, whenever, they are always willing to go.

Beaufort County is fortunate in many ways. Among these is the professionalism and dedication of our first responders to answer the call of service; to train for hours on end, for no pay, so that they can be there for others during some of their darkest hours.

That’s something special. To our first responders, we offer thanks for your willingness to serve, not just here, but when our neighbors need you. For your good works, and for loving your neighbors as yourselves, we salute you.