BY SARAH STEPHENS
PHOTOS BY BOB EALUM – ELMORE/AUTAUGA NEWS
If you cook up Conecuh Sausage Dogs, First Responders will come. Even if they have to fly and land a helicopter in front of AirNow in Millbrook.
Owners of AirNow hosted an appreciation luncheon today for area first responders, with the promise of good ‘dawgs, chips and drinks. Conecuh Sausage of Alabama generously provided the sausage dogs.
While the first responders told us they very much appreciated the food, more than anything they were moved by the show of appreciation. “I have to be honest,” one officer who asked not to be named said. “There is nothing easy about our profession on a good day. The events of this year have truly made me consider leaving. I grew up in a law enforcement family, and I am honored to serve. This kind of thing today…I needed it more than most people know. Thank you.”
It was a reminder that where parts of our country are in chaos, calling for disbanding police department, there are still many people who know the sacrifices that officers, firefighters and EMS workers make every day. In some parts of the country, firefighters and EMS workers are being blocked from house fires and medical calls. Officers are being targeted and ambushed. In Millbrook today area first responders were told they are loved, appreciated, respected and prayed for daily.
It hasn’t been an easy year for first responders. In the first six months of this year so far, 110 law enforcement members alone have been killed in the line of duty across the country. Two of those were right here in Alabama. Lt. Stephen Williams of the Moody Police Department and Police Officer Nick O’Rear with the Kimberly Police Department died from gunfire in separate incidents.
The suicide rate among first responders is devastating. More are lost to suicide each year than counted among those killed in the line of duty.
Of the 110 officers that have died in the line of duty so far this year across the country, 49 of those deaths were from COVID-19. Twenty-five died from gunfire according to the Officer Down Memorial Page found at odmp.org
This compares to a total of 147 officers killed in the line of duty in 2019. Last year seven officers from Alabama were killed.
Somber statistics, but today there were smiles and words of support for all area first responders, thanks to AirNow of Millbrook. Thank you AirNow for the much-needed reminder that our communities appreciate good First Responders. See more photos below!