Dear Editor:

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a ridealong with the Alcoa Fire Department on July 28. I've been in human resources almost 30 years and my objective was to learn a little more about fire  personnel and what a "typical day" is like for them.

I learned quickly there is no such thing as a typical day. On Mondays the AFD typically does field training, so it was more of a "work-along" day than just riding around in a red truck. I was able to ride on a non-emergency call regarding smoke detectors and an emergency call where an elderly lady fell and busted her head open. I was able to participate in training both in and outside the classroom. It was an eye-opening experience and left me feeling incredibly grateful for our first responders.

I was amazed at the range of required firefighter skills. Aside from their willingness to put themselves in harm's way, they are flexible and can change direction on a dime, go into situations somewhat blind, and  provide medical care and empathy to complete strangers. All the while they demonstrate excellent communications skills and remain calm amid chaos. I asked each of them why they chose their occupation, and every firefighter said to make a difference and help people.

It is evident Alcoa firefighters truly have a servant's heart, and I'm thankful I had the chance to spend some time with them. They truly do serve the community with excellence, and thank you Chief Roger Robinson for your leadership.

Betsy Cunningham

Nails Creek Road

Maryville

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