“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” - Joseph Campbell
Life can change in the blink of an eye; a calm day can quickly turn into dark storm. Heroes arrive in multiple forms to calm the storm. They do not come wearing capes, but a uniform accompanied by lights and sirens. Occasionally they extinguish fires, structural or forest, or they could be giving lifesaving treatment to someone in need.
First responders choose to put the lives of their community members before their own. They are the ones who run toward the chaos when everyone else is running away. They are courageous despite fear and the unknown.
A hero is one who is admired for their courage. Frequently heroes are known as those dressed in uniforms arriving with lights and sirens, but there are heroes who are dressed in plain clothing. They are the heroes who help the heroes.
Keith Boe of North Idaho Life, is one of those everyday people making a difference in the world. This spring, North Idaho Life surprised a local combat veteran marine—who was deploying within days—to his dream. He didn’t ask for much; he wanted to have a memorable day on Priest Lake, Idaho with his family. The members of North Idaho Life not only raised the money for the fishing trip, but exceeded the amount necessary.
The excess money went for a dinner for the family at Trinity at City Beach in Sandpoint, Idaho. The family was so moved by the outpouring of generosity, they invited their fishing guide, Rich Lindsey, to join them for their last dinner until the marine returns from his deployment. Lindsey not only joined them for dinner but is now an honorary member of the family.
According to Boe, if the group can do something for someone else in need, a special time together that will create lasting memories, or bless them, then he will not hesitate to pull out all the stops to make it happen.
Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the “hero” within us is revealed. - Bob Riley
Sometimes the hero is at the right place at the right time. On January 17, 2017, in Bonner County, Marsha Hanna was out walking her horses. She took them up the mountain by her home when gunshots rang out. Living in North Idaho, Hanna assumed that the shots were from target practice.
“Looking back, the sounds were different,” stated Hanna.
Continuing up the hill, as she rounded a corner, an officer came out of a driveway. At first glance, she could tell something was not right. He looked disheveled and she noticed that his radio was dangling from his side. The injured officer told Hanna to get back, and this is when she became the hero for the heroes. Hanna informed the injured officer of her training, as she was an emergency room nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The officer then asked for assistance and Hanna’s instincts took over.
Moments later, a patrol car arrived to Hanna’s location with another injured officer. After quickly assessing the situation, she realized that she did not have the required tools to aid them. She instructed the driver to a nearby neighbor’s home, where they could be safely evaluated and wait for emergency medical services.
Once at her neighbor’s, her 12-year medical career set into high gear. She quickly realized that one of the officers needed medevacked and had a helicopter called in. She applied pressure to the officers’ wounds; each had three gunshot wounds.
The two Bonner County Sheriff deputies were shot while trying to arrest a man with a warrant in Blanchard, Idaho. The first deputy that Hanna met on the road required surgery. After the surgery, the deputy called her and asked her to come meet his family.
“They deserve the thank you … not me,” said Hanna.
“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” - Brodi Ashton, Everneath
On a Tuesday afternoon this past June, officers responded to a rollover accident on Government Way in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Nothing was unordinary about this call, as traffic accidents are one of the many aspects of the job that police officers are prepared for. But this day was a bit different. When officers arrived at the scene, they were met by a group of bystanders who had stepped in to help those involved in the accident while they were waiting for help to arrive. Ordinary citizens, who could have continued on their way, took action and became the heroes that afternoon.
One group, which included a nurse, had worked together to help remove a 6-year-old boy from the overturned vehicle. They successfully removed him, assessed him for injuries and comforted and waited with this brave little boy until Dad arrived, as Mom was still trapped in the car. Kind citizens stood watch next to the car, assuring Mom she would be OK and that her son was doing fine and now safe.
As if that wasn’t enough, others had taken charge to help prevent any further accidents, controlling and directing traffic while they waited for officers to get there and take over.
Not one of these people was forced to intercede and help this family in trouble. They chose to assist them, out of the goodness of their souls and kindness of their hearts. Each individual was a hero that day, acting selflessly to ensure the safety of strangers in their community.
“A hero is somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown.” - Tom Hanks
It can be the simple things that can say so much. On June 23, 2017, the Sandpoint community came together to show their appreciation as Sandpoint’s Luther Park hosted its Hugs for Heroes Barbecue to thank all first responders and veterans. Firefighters, EMTs, veterans, police and sheriff departments were all invited and honored at the event in a show of appreciation from the local community.
“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” - Maya Angelou
For those of you in the Hope, Idaho area and who would like to show your appreciation for Sam Owen Fire District and Fire Chief Bob Wathen, there will be a Pancake Breakfast July 22 at the Sam Owen Fire Station No. 1. Attendees will enjoy a delicious hot breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, and juice, coffee or tea served 7:30am until 11am, all for only $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids under 12. This is the major community event and only fundraiser for the Sam Owen Fire District. The monies raised are used for supplies for the fire house, including uniforms, communication devices and important firefighting equipment. More than 60 volunteers, plus the firefighters and fire chief, spend countless hours to collect donations, cook the meal and serve you a delicious breakfast. 2017 marks their 15th anniversary, and they invite you to join us and celebrate.
During the event, Wathen, one of the initial founding firefighters of the SOFD, which was created in 2002, will be honored. He has been the face of the fire department as he has served the community as fire chief for all 15 years of the district fire department. He will be retiring July 31, 2017.
For many years, fire chief was a volunteer position, with the district eventually garnering sufficient funds to compensate Wathen for his endless hours of service. “His service far exceeds his modest compensation, and he has been on call 24 hours a day for the last 15 years,” said Eileen Klatt, public information officer for the Sam Owen Fire District. “His dedication to serving the community has been unwavering, and his commitment to the quality of fire protection, rescue and emergency services outstanding.” Though Wathen is retiring as fire chief, he will continue to serve the community as a fire commissioner, which is a volunteer position.
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is so important to focus on the uplifting stories—that are often underrepresented—of our local heroes amidst the disheartening viral videos of what appears to be officer misconduct. But remember, for every video, there are hundreds of incidents, not recorded, of our law enforcement helping those in need—from simply assisting an elderly woman with her groceries to holding the hand of someone after being involved in a frightening accident. How many times do firefighters go into a dangerous fire to save those who cannot escape on their own? And then there are our military men and women, who are serving all over the world, leaving their family and friends behind, to ensure the safety and freedom of all.
It takes a special person to put the needs of others before themselves each and every minute of every day. They sacrifice for the good of others, and do so with an open heart and open arms. Heroes are truly humble individuals. They do their job for the love of their job and as a way to give back to their community. We thank you for your strength, dedication and perseverance. Your selflessness inspires us all to be better human beings.
The next time you see a police officer, firefighter, EMT or serviceman, thank them. That small gesture goes a long way in relaying your appreciation and validating why they do the work they do, and why they are our heroes.