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First responders are superheroes

Posted: June 15, 2017 3:10 p.m.
Updated: June 16, 2017 1:00 a.m.

When the call comes, they have the training, equipment and courage to respond. Be it during dinner or Sunday school, these superheroes work long hours, in crazy situations we cannot even imagine. These special heroes answer the call to protect and save our citizens day and night. 

They are our first responders.

Our first responders make and keep our community a safer place to live, work and play. We are so fortunate when children can walk to school, when we can walk or bike in our neighborhoods or when we freely move about. All of our citizens have the right to be safe. In addition to what we expect of first responders, here in Camden they do so much more.

Stop for one moment; think about what you believe our Camden Police Department offers. The department has long established itself as a community oriented police agency and easily combines that concept with law enforcement. More often than not, we envision our officers as law enforcers -- and yes, they do that.

Many of us fail to realize the scope of what they do. Our police department also offers a variety of free services in our city, such as funeral escorts. Unlike many other agencies, our department does not charge for this service. You can call and request a free security evaluation; both residential and business evaluations are offered. An officer performing a home or business security assessment will also offer suggestions for improvement.  They talk to you about best practices and means that will work best for you.  They offer families struggling with strained child custody exchanges a safe place to meet at the department. This feature is also beneficial for the very popular internet/e-commerce sale exchanges. Another favorite is their vacation property check service. You simply call during normal business hours and answer a few questions, such as the time frame you are expected to be away and who may have keys to your property while you are away. Shift officers can check your property as their work schedules allow while you are out-of-town. Did you know that if you receive a charge or traffic ticket, you can call or visit the department to discuss the situation and options for resolution?

Protecting 50 square miles (the coverage area exceeds beyond the borders of Camden proper) and responding to 600-plus emergency calls each year, our 29 career members, 16 volunteers and 12 explorers comprise the Camden Fire Department we recognize day to day.  My guess is you think “emergency calls” when you envision this group of first responders. That is what most of us envision. But, there is more.

Just as our police department does, our Camden Fire Department offers many proactive programs to our community. They offer fire inspections and recommendations to our business community. In any given year, they install up to 500 smoke detectors. All of our citizens, but especially children, benefit from their programs. They properly install and demonstrate installation of more than 130 child safety seats a year. Yes, they teach “911."  They teach fire prevention via face-to-face classes to more than 2,000 elementary school children each year. They host an annual Fire Fest to increase fire safety awareness.

Their latest project may save your life today or tomorrow or the next day. In coordination with all of the departments within the city, they are placing Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in city-owned buildings. This project also includes training city staff in the proper use of AEDs. They are providing lifesaving protection every day.

These first responders do it all and they are assisted by many superheroes whom you do not often see. Our first responders do their jobs with direction and assistance from the dispatchers, those who provide maintenance for them and their equipment, the staffs who handle all the regulation updates and office requirements, their supportive families and you.

When was the last time you thanked them? Do you wave and say thank you when you pass them on the street? Have you taken them a big fruit basket recently? Have you written them a thank you note, including a drawing from your children?  Enjoy how great you feel when you become part of our Camden first responder support team --  when you recognize and thank our first responders.  

Today, we recognize two primary groups who work hard to ensure our city is safe and secure. Community safety and security are critical aspects of maintaining the hometown we love and critical to growing for tomorrow. So, please remember when you lie down at night, our heroes stand watch, protecting our city and citizens around the clock.  I am sincerely grateful for all of them. It is an honor to thank them.

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