Northside Baptist hosts luncheon for first responders

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, May 22, 2018

At Northside Baptist Church’s first responder luncheon Monday, Juanita Wilkes chatted with Daniel Hussey, Captain/Paramedic TFD, without knowing that he was among the first responders when she went into sudden cardiac arrest at a Troy restaurant in 2011. Wilkes was grateful for the unexpected opportunity to say “thank you” to Hussey for the role he played in the life-saving efforts.

But, for a time, Pike County first responders were at a lost when attempting to adequately thank Northside Baptist Church for the appreciation lunch that had been prepared for them on Monday.

But, they found a way.

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“Go back for seconds,” several of the first responders laughing said as they eyed the long table of delicious scratch Southern cooking, including desserts.

“This is the first time we have prepared lunch for our first responders,” said Ramona Dunn, a member of the cooking crew. “But we wanted to do this to show our appreciation to all first responders. They should be thanked every day for all they do to keep us safe and help us in emergency situations. This is a small way to say thank you, thank you and thank you.”

But, the first responder luncheon was not a small thing to the 50 and more first responders who had the opportunity to attend.

“This means the world to us,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr. “To have people reach out to us and give us opportunities to sit down together in fellowship is something we greatly appreciate.”

Barr said the daily dangers that first responders face are becoming more apparent to the public.

“The public is also realizing that crime prevention is not all law enforcement,” he said. “Our citizens are the eyes and ears of the community. Keeping our community safe is up to all of us.”

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said, too, that having the community reach out in appreciation is a balm to first responders.

“No matter who you are or what you do, it means a lot to know that you are appreciated. It warms your heart,” Thomas said. “There are a lot of troubling things going on in today’s world. Almost every day there is another tragic situation. So, people are more aware of the dangers around us and are gaining a better understanding of what first responders face, not every hour, but every minute.”

That understanding, he said, could result in a more positive outcome if a situation becomes confrontational.

First responders from the Troy Fire Department and the Troy University Police Department echoed the sentiments of Barr and Thomas and thanked Northside Baptist Church for lunch and the appreciation shown to all first responders throughout county.

Troy Fire Chief Michael Stephens said his department is grateful for the appreciation shown for the jobs that first responders do and for the many things they do that are never known.

Erik Whitlow, Troy University Police, said, too, that what first responders do to assist the public often goes unnoticed.

“First responders are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he said. “What is done is not for recognition but it’s good to know that what we do is appreciated.

Atop the luncheon registry were the words, “God Bless You.”

And, those were the words that many first responders chose to thank Northside Baptist Church remembering them and their services.

“And God bless you,” they said with a hug and a smile.