by Lt. Colonel Robert Webster
Territorial Secretary for Program
I am proud to serve alongside our brave men and women who have committed themselves to serving through emergency disaster services (EDS). Their ministry is demanding and sometimes performed in daunting circumstances, as I learned many years ago.
I was driving on my way home when I passed an apartment building where flames were shooting out of the attic. Stopping the car and getting out, I heard glass crashing from the back of the building. There, a woman was screaming over and over, “Help my family,” and said others were still in the house. I yelled to the neighbors, “Please call 911!”
I grabbed a blanket in sight, put it over the lady’s head and told her to lean over and breathe fresh air as smoke billowed over the top of her head. Then I ran full speed ahead, lowering my shoulder into a door but bounced off. I attempted to break through again. This time the door flew open, and I slid across the kitchen floor.
The smoke was intense—pitch black. I shouted, “Is there anyone here?” Hearing someone in another room, I crawled that way. Though it was hard to breathe, I pushed forward and saw an infant lying on the floor and a toddler close by. Grabbing them, I started to back out of the building. As I struggled, two firefighters came up behind me and grabbed them.
Two other people were crawling toward the exit. “Someone needs to help our grandma,” one of them said. “We will find her” the firefighters responded as they made their way back inside and were engulfed in darkness. Glass was now breaking in the front of the apartment, and firefighters yelled, “Help us! Grab this woman!” I helped pull her out, but she was not breathing. Though the firefighters performed CPR, sadly she died. However, five other individuals were rescued and given a second chance at life that day.
Often, EDS teams respond to scenes like these in communities across the territory. Trained and prepared, they are ready to assist first-responders and individuals and families in crisis. Through their service and meeting others’ needs they are demonstrating the love of God. Our emotional and spiritual care personnel listen, provide comfort and often pray with them in Jesus’ name.
May God continue to provide us with people who are committed to Him and willing to serve others in such extraordinary circumstances.