“Hero” is a word that tends to be overworked, but there are times when its use is appropriate.
It’s the word we would use to describe a Keyser, W.Va. police officer who entered a smoke-filled home Wednesday night after he heard someone was still inside. Arriving before firefighters, he went in alone, found an unconscious woman and pulled her outside to safety.
Keyser Police Chief Karen Shoemaker did not identify him, saying that “This officer, and all of our officers, risk their lives every day in their service to the community and I am very proud of all of them.” In other words, he was doing his job to the best of his ability and upholding the traditions of his service.
Many of our area’s first responders, whether police officers, volunteer or paid firefighters, emergency medical technicians and 911 dispatchers, have done the same, particularly in recent days. The danger of residential fires grows when the weather turns frigid, and numerous homes have been destroyed or damaged by fires in the last week.
Few civilians could imagine the devotion and determination shown by these first responders. They frequently must leave their warm beds in the middle of the night to turn out in sub-freezing temperatures in the hopes of saving people’s lives or property from fire or some other disaster — often working to the point of exhaustion.
That is, unless, they are unfortunate enough to be among the victims of such fires.
A home may be damaged beyond repair, but if a life is preserved, it is a victory for which we have our heroes to thank.