Friday’s storm reminds us of how important first responders are

As a powerful severe thunderstorm barrelled through the Lewistown area Friday evening, the scanner in our newsroom started going berserk.

Every few seconds it seemed like another report of electrical wires down, trees down or other property damage came across the emergency airwaves — even while it still looked like Lewistown was beneath Niagara Falls.

We even came to learn later from the National Weather Service that some so-called “minor” tornadoes (if there is such a thing) touched down in Juniata and Huntingdon counties.

But as the chaos was unfolding, the highly-skilled, yet inundated emergency dispatchers were calmly assigning different fire and EMS companies to different areas to assist with the cleanup and to keep the general public away from dangerous situations.

They were also tasked with making sure the electric company was notified of any wires down, so they could begin the Herculean task of restoring power to the thousands who had lost it, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, so they could help clear roadways blocked by storm debris.

And what seemed like mere moments after the worst of the storm had passed and well before the rain had stopped, there were the first responders — firefighers, fire police, EMS personnel and even police out doing what they could to help alleviate the problems the storm had caused and get people who were traveling safely to wherever it was they were going.

The fact that this scene played out in such unremarkable fashion is truly a testament to those who responded — the vast majority of whom are volunteers with other jobs and families of their own.

Their work often goes unnoticed and taken for granted, but without the selflessness of these people, nights like this past Friday would be a whole lot worse. They are the ones there to help when help is needed most.

Thank you to those who put their lives on hold at a moment’s notice to go out and protect and save the rest of us. We cannot show enough gratitude for what you do.

COMMENTS