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Our community is better for those who protect us

In a world where we are inundated each minute and hour with news and information, there are some stories that stop you in your tracks. There are some stories that give you pause, and make you thank God for the blessings in your life and walk the next step more grateful for those blessings.

Last week, I found myself in that situation with a story our team covered.

Fridays around the newsroom are a bit more hectic than other days. The Weekend edition includes more features and normally has more pages than other editions.

When the call came across the scanner last Friday about search and rescue efforts underway along the Mississippi River, our “normal day” became anything but.

As we scoured for information on what was happening, bits and pieces were beginning to come in.

There was an air ambulance on the way, there were teams on the river and 911 was on the phone with an individual who did not know where he was, who he was, and at times was unable to communicate at all.

Hours went by, which for those involved and the man himself, must have felt like an eternity. For those involved in the search and rescue, it was their hope and prayer it remained a rescue and not a recovery. The differences between the two are legitimately life and death.

As we learned more, and as rescuers arrived at a small campsite, tucked away in a slough along the river, we started hearing calls about the patient’s medical condition and attempts to land the air ambulance closer to the campsite. When attempts to land close were called off, he was loaded on a Warren County Sheriff’s Office boat and raced to Letourneau landing where the air ambulance was waiting.

The individual was flown to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he was later listed in good condition and was recovering.

As we learned later, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, after going through some of the man’s belongings and using clues, including a 10-year-old rabies dog tag, was able to identify the man as Ricky Harrison from Eudora, Ark.

Pace contacted the family, letting them know of Harrison’s condition and then learned Harrison had not been in touch with his family since May. What an amazing phone call that must have been.

While the end result of Harrison’s rescue and recovery is the most important thing that matters, the events of that day, the details of that rescue and the research and investigation that went into finding out Harrison’s identity and finding his family, are what has left a lasting impression on me.

For those who serve the public as deputies, firefighters, police officers, EMTs, dispatchers and others, their job is a calling. It is not something they will ever get rich doing, but something they are fulfilled in doing.

Their jobs are ones that we cannot thank them enough for doing.

Those who serve as first responders go to work each day hoping they do not get a call, but are prepared to serve when called.

As a community, we are blessed with not only those who are well trained to serve, but those willing to do so. They are men and women who sit beside us in church, raise their families in our neighborhoods and have the same hopes and dreams for their children as we do ours.

They step into the breach at a moment’s notice not asking “why me,” but rather asking “who better?”

The story of Ricky Harrison’s rescue is one that words on paper cannot do justice, and I am sure there are details that only those who were in the midst of that recovery, and Harrison himself, know and will never share.

Harrison is alive today because of the team of people who protect our community went out and did their job. They did their job well and today, Harrison has the chance to be reunited with his family.

It is a story that caused me to stop, be thankful and praise God for those who are there when we need them the most.

 

Tim Reeves is editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at tim.reeves@vicksburgpost.com.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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