by Brady Mathis
The sun was warm, and a light spring breeze was stirring the sage north of town. It was 12:30 pm on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Kremmling Fire received the following dispatch at 12:37 pm:
Respond to Highway 40 in the area of Wolford reservoir for a head-on accident with major injuries; semi vs. SUV; semi is on fire.
While we, as the fire service, endeavor to treat every dispatch with professionalism and urgency that is appropriate for life-threatening situations, not all emergencies are created equal. For example, certain keywords in this dispatch created the firm sense that we were about to face a rapidly changing, high-risk incident with a significant potential for growth. Such an incident requires quick response, effective action, and -above all else – trained firefighters.
I walked into the bay at the fire station knowing that most, if not all, of Kremmling’s volunteer
We maneuvered the fire trucks around stopped traffic as I watched thick black smoke rising behind the hill. Our crew approached an accident scene that covered an area roughly the size of a football field. Plastic, glass, and metal fragments were strewn uniformly over both lanes and shoulders of the roadway. When we arrived, the cab of the semi was consumed with flames, and everything around it was beginning to burn as well. Radiant heat from the flames penetrated the windows of the rescue truck as we drove through the carnage to take up a safe position to fight
Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life, this incident had the potential to cause much more damage and harm than it did. A catastrophic midweek crash is just one of many examples in our county this summer where trouble was nipped before it blossomed. I am grateful to all the first responders who work tirelessly to prevent loss of life and property, but special recognition is
Employers in Kremmling that have organized in a way that allows employees the option to respond to emergencies during working hours are making an enormous contribution to our community. Case in point, Hester’s Log and Lumber (where Aron works) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (where Annie works) have policies in place that enable our firefighters to leave work when an urgent need arises. There are many reasons why this is a good thing. The first and most recognizable benefit of supporting emergency response during work cannot be illustrated more clearly than it was on a sunny Wednesday in May. Without the folks who can respond from their workplace, weekday response in Kremmling can be dangerously short on personnel, which puts first responders and the public at greater risk. Simply stated, businesses that allow volunteer firefighters the flexibility to respond are reducing
In consideration of reducing risk, as well as saving money, supporting volunteer firefighters in the workforce is an essential part of a safe and prosperous town. While allowing firefighters to respond during work requires time and effort to make a plan that works for everyone, it pays dividends. Moreover, the investment that organizations like Hester’s and BLM are making in safety, in people, and in our community cannot be overstated. On behalf of first responders everywhere, thank you, volunteers, and thank you, employers, who support a thriving volunteer culture in Kremmling. Finally, I encourage all Kremmling business owners who do not support our volunteer response to take note. Please help keep our citizens and property safe and keep the cost of living in a small town affordable – allow volunteers the flexibility to respond to Everyone benefits.
by Brady Mathis