First responders spend the holidays a bit differently

In this Signal file photo, first responders prepare their equipment. Austin Dave/Signal

Very few things compare to watching your children run down the stairs on Christmas Day and form a smile when they see all of the neatly-wrapped packages under the tree that Santa left the night before.

For first responders, nurses and other people busy at work during the holidays, their special day may not be a traditional one.

“The community is extremely appreciative of the fact that their first responders are working on Christmas Day,” Fire Captain Greg Hitchcock said. “They don’t have the opportunity to spend time with their families.”

Christmas Day wasn’t a normally scheduled day for Hitchcock. He traded his shift with another Fire Captain that had small children.

“We do a lot of juggling,” Hitchcock said.

“As a firefighter, it just comes with the territory,” Fire Captain Tom Greenlee said.

“If you have to work, you have to work.”

First responders are out on the field no matter what day it happens to be. They rush to and from medical emergencies, save homes from fires caused by Christmas trees and do what they do on any other day.

“Heart attacks and diabetic emergencies don’t know what day of the year it is,” said Greenlee. “They happen no matter what.”

Even though Greenlee’s shift occurs on Christmas, his family does their best to stay true to their holiday traditions.

Greenlee, his wife and 8-year-old daughter Kara all woke up early to see what Santa left under the tree before Greenlee’s 8 a.m., 24-hour shift.

“We try to make it work as much as possible.”

Many of the local fire stations will participate in a gift exchange within the shifts or even have a Christmas Dinner. Their families will come in, share a meal and possibly “hold down the fort” if their loved ones need to respond to a call during dinner time.

“It’s just another day that we have to go to work and do our service to the community,” firefighter paramedic Larry Hoerner said.

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