It was just like any other Friday afternoon. I had just left from work, excited for the weekend. The love of my life and I were headed to pick up his daughter for the weekend. We decided to get there by the way of the lake. It was such a beautiful day, and we both love the water. We topped the hill and we could see a car, smashed into a large pine tree just off the side of the road. We both knew it was bad. We stopped immediately, somewhat still in the highway. I jumped into the driver’s seat, moving further off the road so nothing else would happen. I knew he would be more helpful than I would have been. We weren’t the first on scene, but two of the first. Looking back, I remember that every person that traveled that road during that time stopped. They didn’t pass by thinking it was covered. They stopped, got out, helped, and tried. They did the absolute best they could with the tools they had; their two hands, a case of water, and a shovel. They were all heroes that day.
A Marion County Deputy was the initial first responder on the scene. He made sure there wasn’t anyone else in the car that they might have been able to free, since the driver was so obviously trapped. Only the “jaws of life” could have freed the driver. The man with the shovel looked like he would like to bury that car with dirt to keep it from burning, smothering the fire as quickly as he could. We poured water anywhere that looked like water would help, but it was just a case of bottled water. A wonderful volunteer went to the Corps of Engineers office requesting fire extinguishers and/or anything that could help. They brought back two. More people arrived, and each one was asked if they had an extinguisher. Another man did, back at his camp. He hurried back to gather what he could to help. No one wanted the outcome to be what happened, but there was nothing anyone there could have done to change the situation.
Again, this was Friday afternoon, and most people were still not off work. In our county, our firefighters are all volunteers. They must get the call, head to the fire station, and then drive to the scene where they’re desperately needed when every second counts. Sometimes, they just aren’t physically able to get there in time. It’s a sad fact.
I want to urge every person living in an area like ours to carry a fire extinguisher in their vehicle. Sometimes they aren’t enough to do any real help. But maybe, one day, you come across a horrific scene, and you’ll be there early enough to where that extinguisher will have a chance to put out the fire long before the scene becomes a tragedy. It also makes me wish that every first responder; City Police Officers, County Sheriff’s Deputies, Game Wardens and Highway Patrol Officers each carry a large fire extinguisher. I was shocked to find out that a fire extinguisher is not part of the standard equipment in each vehicle they drive.
– Tamra Ford
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