Help protect our first responders

By on April 6, 2020

(Sandy Semans Ross)

It’s been a week since this wreck occurred and I’ve gotten angrier by the day.

I posted the picture to Facebook and outlined how many responders were at the scene and what a wonderful job MedFlight did landing the copter in the road. The post drew 67 ‘likes’ and 14 ‘shares.’ I was hoping that someone would comment about the obvious problem with the scene but nary a one ‘got it’.

The three-motorcycle wreck near the Hyde County line on 264 drew two EMS ambulances plus a EMS supervisor (total of five people) at least two Sheriff’s Office deputies, State Highway Patrol officer, seven members of the Stumpy Point Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department and MedFlight with pilot and paramedic who transported one of the patients after landing on the road.

There were several cycles in the group and about six or seven riders. They were out for an afternoon joy ride, entered the county illegally and potentially placed the 17 responders — and the riders — in harm’s way. Highway 64 from Alligator River Bridge to Manns Harbor and connecting 264 that goes from Hyde County through Stumpy Point and connects with 64 west of Manns Harbor has been left open to out-of-county traffic.

Not only has this allowed joy riders into the county, there has been an influx of nonresident property owners and friends and families of residents fleeing other locales to take up residence here in the village while other parts of the county are protected from such. We have requested that the same protection offered to the rest of the county be provided for our village.

We are waiting for a response but can’t and won’t let it go on much longer. We will take our own action.

It is impossible to wear full protective gear to every medical rescue call. If all those responding did that, we risk being out of gear for the calls that require such safety protection. We obviously can’t practice ‘social distancing’ as such scenes so I had to wonder if any of the more than 20 at that wreck scene was an unknown carrier of the Coronavirus.

If so, were any of us risking quarantine, thus reducing the ranks of our various agencies, departments that could respond to future calls?

Dare County’s EMS Public Safety director Jennie Collins has come up with excellent protocols to try to protect fire and rescue members from suspected Coronavirus cases but, the really frightening scenarios are from those who have it but aren’t showing symptoms. While the focus has been on the virus, we still have to answer calls for heart attacks, strokes, injuries, overdoses and traffic accidents.

About eight of Dare County fire departments are all volunteers. No one is paid. I feel comfortable stating that every member responds to calls out of a sense of responsibility to help take care of our neighbors and the public at large. Although paid, EMS, Sheriff’s deputies, Highway Patrol each has to have the same general feelings of responsibilities or they wouldn’t be in the profession.

Volunteer fire departments are often the first on scene of fires and medical rescues simply because of the geography of the county.

In Stumpy Point, we are so far away from the rest of the county, we are the first on scene about 99 percent of the time. We respond to accidents and other calls for help along about a 35-mile stretch of 264 as well as medical calls in and out of the village. Those most likely to turn out to answer the call are the older, more experienced members.

County-wide, volunteers tend to be over 60 and a large number of them have medical conditions. If these members become sick or quarantined, it leaves younger, less experienced volunteers trying to hold down the fort.

We knowingly risk our own health and safety so we can respond to your needs; in turn, we just ask that you don’t kill us with thoughtlessness.

Stay home. If you need to go out, don’t wear gloves from place to place. They are not protecting you and if the virus gets on them, you are moving it to another location every time you touch something. Just wash your hands.

Designate one member of the family to go to the store and, when you go, pick up enough for a week. The fewer people in and the fewer trips to the store can really help in not spreading it. Don’t take kids along as though it is an outing. Kids want to touch everything they see, and it is not good parenting to take a chance on exposing them to health risks.

Keep your teenagers at home. If you have an issue controlling them, maybe while you stay at home, you can work on that.

Stop inviting friends and families from other counties to come here. Half the positive cases in Dare County are not residents, so may have actually brought the virus here.

With the sixth case reported today, two are residents who have had no contact with one other, so we may now have community spread which is what we didn’t need.

We want to do our part and only ask that the public do the same.

Sandy Semans Ross is Chief of the Stumpy Point Fire and Rescue Department

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  • charlie

    Sandy is correct on rodblocks……we are 1 county… move roadblocks to alligator river and 264 border.

    Monday, Apr 6 @ 11:12 am
  • WindyBill

    Are you proposing that 64 be blocked at the west end of Alligator Bridge and 264 be blocked at the Dare/Hyde county line? Then formally ask the commissioners to ask the Governor.
    Most bikers are good people, how did those idiots get into a mass crash?

    Monday, Apr 6 @ 2:03 pm
  • Liza

    Well said. I don’t understand why or who was unintelligent and thoughtless to just leave Stumpy Point, Eastlake, and part of Manns Harbor out of the loop. They certainly don’t mind collecting their tax dollers. I pray this letter opens their eyes to where the county lines are.

    Tuesday, Apr 7 @ 10:20 am
  • BC

    Can’t thank the responders enough for all they do. By now everyone knows or should know what areas are under quarantine. While getting out for a ride may seem an ideal way to deal with being shut in, people need to think. I don’t understand why the areas aren’t manned or at the very least, marked for no entry. I hate that people were injured while trying to enjoy the fresh air but people, people, people – be safe, not just in driving.

    Wednesday, Apr 8 @ 12:03 pm
  • anotherobxman

    Going out for a ride is NOT an essential activity during a shelter in place order. Doesn’t matter if you’re on a motorcycle, on a horse, in a car or on a paraglider.

    Thursday, Apr 9 @ 6:08 pm