COLUMN: Thanks, first responders, for having our backs

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By Shannon Brock

A nap to recover from an end-of-week and out-of-town meeting was all that stood in the way of having a nice dinner date with my husband on Friday night.
Or so I thought.
Around 6 p.m., however, I found myself awake and hearing one end of a conversation about a tornado warning.
My mother-in-law called to tell us about the impending storm, so I sleepily dragged my feet into the only real “interior” room in my house – the bathroom.
Just so you know, there are two things in this world I can honestly tell you I hate – bugs and storms.
While the natural curiosity of a journalist that sets up shop in my head really (kind of) wants to see a funnel cloud, my fear of storms was overpowering, and my husband and I ended up seeking shelter in the bathroom for the next hour and a half.
Listening to the wail of the tornado sirens, I kept myself busy checking Twitter feeds, Facebook status updates and severe weather alerts from The Weather Channel on my smartphone. My husband used his for more recreational activities – reading and playing games.
With every clap of thunder, every gust of wind and every raindrop that pounded our roof, I found myself getting more and more tense. I raced to load and read the next weather-related tweet or update. Honestly, what else was I going to do while trying to escape the funnel clouds?
Mixed in with the tornado siren, the thunder, wind and rain, another howl caught my attention – emergency sirens.
Because I was huddling in the corner of my teeny, tiny bathroom, I can’t tell you if these sirens belonged to police, firefighters, EMTs or a combination of the three, but for the sake of my point, it doesn’t really matter.
As I’ve already stated, I’m a wimp when it comes to storms. Whether I inherited that trait from my mother or picked it up as a learned behavior from watching her react, my wonderful mother certainly passed that fear along to me.
I’m a prime example of someone who is all too afraid of Mother Nature’s rumblings.
But Friday evening, as I sat bundled up into a tense ball of fear in my little bathroom, unbelievably brave men and women were out and about throughout the region and the state facing these tornadic storms head on.
And I don’t know how they do it.
I don’t know how they act nothing short of fearless as they respond to anyone who needs help in terrifying situations. Not only do they respond to calls in storms, but in snow and in heat. They walk into burning buildings; they get caught up in gunfire; they pull victims out of mangled automobiles. They deliver terrible news to mothers, fathers, daughters and sons; they arrest criminals; they rescue citizens from swift waters.
And they don’t get enough credit.
While this effort may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, I can’t let these storms pass (poor pun intended) without saying thank you to our every day heroes. None of them knows what catastrophe will rear its ugly head when heading into work every morning, but each one still goes.
So, thank you to all of our first responders. It’s nice to know that if a coward like me ever needs a hero, you’ve got my back.