International Firefighters’ Day: a chance to understand, appreciate, and honor their sacrifice

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Like a family: firefighters Zach and Ben

RAPID CITY, S.D. — May 4 is International Firefighters’ Day, a time to appreciate and honor the courage and sacrifice of our very bravest.

Appreciating their work means understanding it, and the reality that fighting fires is only a small part of what they do.

“The majority of the stuff we do is EMS,” says Ben McKee, a journeyman firefighter and paramedic with the Rapid City Fire Department. “Since I’m a paramedic, I’ll spend a certain number of shifts every month on the ambulance. I ride on the squad downtown, so that’ll go to multiple cardiac arrests and kind of higher-severity calls.”

Their 24-hour shifts might seem like a lot, but when you look at all the work they have to do, there’s really not enough hours in the day.

The men and women of Rapid City Fire start their day cleaning the station before their briefing.

In between calls for service – nearly 80% of which are medical – they’re sharpening their skills, taking care of equipment, and exercising.

Such intense hyper-awareness means that their down time is that much more important.

“That’s actually a tough thing,” says Lt. John Potter at Station 1. “I have two young boys at home and when I get home it’s time to wrestle. It’s time…dad’s home; it’s time to play; they’re excited.”

They’re a family that trains hard and works harder.

“It’s like hanging out with your buddies the whole time,” McKee says. “You never know what’s going to happen; there’s all sorts of crazy stuff.”

To our firefighters everywhere, thank you.

The Rapid City Fire Department is still hiring through May 13. CLICK HERE for a link to apply.

Categories: Local News