If there was ever any doubt, the global pandemic has shown us how important health care providers and first responders are to people in the U.S. and around the globe.

Their occupations put them in a position to offer assistance when and where it is needed. But simply doing one’s job has taken on a whole different meaning in these troubled times.

As we have reported many times over the years, these selfless individuals are ready to render aid whether they are on duty or not. Some are paid professionals and others are volunteers, but either way first responders are never really off the clock.

Such was the case when Garrett County resident Andrew Bell, who was swimming and relaxing at Swallow Falls State Park last Sunday, heard a mother’s cry and found an unconscious child in the water. He lifted and turned the youngster, who expelled water from his mouth and began to breathe. The Oakland Volunteer Fire Department volunteer then called an ambulance for follow-up care.

We know of off-duty police officers, firefighters, nurses and emergency medical technicians who have put their lifesaving skills into action at the scenes of traffic accidents or when people are stricken in churches, restaurants and public spaces.

The call, “Is there a doctor in the house,” brings forth not only physicians, but men and women who have medical training and cannot bring themselves to hold back. They are not required to lend a hand — it’s their nature. That’s saying something, too, in the lawsuit-happy times in which we live.

Sometimes the hero is a passerby who has received training in first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation from the American Red Cross or other reputable organization.

Thankfully, so-called Good Samaritan laws can protect individuals who do their best to help another person in an emergency. Sometimes their best efforts are in vain.

What would have happened if Bell wasn’t there last Sunday? Would someone else have stepped forward? The child’s mother will always be grateful that he was in the right place at the right time.

People are drawn to careers with an element of danger for a variety of reasons, but most will tell you they want to make a difference.

It often is the difference between life and death. 

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