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Fire chief Steve Andrews trained his team well

Laura and some of her garden club friends were at the office making red and purple bows to benefit fire chief Steve Andrews in his fight against pancreatic cancer. Red is for firefighters and purple is for pancreatic cancer. Hedy Cauthen started the bow tradition here years ago when her son, late firefighter Britton Cauthen, was fighting the same dreaded diagnosis. They were on their 40th bow when the call went out regarding a twocar collision at the intersection of MLK Parkway and Gordon Road. The driver of a Jeep Cherokee was trapped and suffering chest pains. I got there quickly and watched the emergency responders arrive. They flooded onto the scene and immediately evaluated the walking wounded and the situation with the entrapped victim Then they went to work. Multiple Barnesville police officers, sheriff Brad White and Lt. Chris Webster directed traffic. EMT’s from Community Ambulance started an IV on the trapped woman. Firefighters donned their heavy suits, boots and gloves in the hot sun and went to work to free the poor lady in the Jeep. The impact of the crash had hit in the driver’s door area and heavily damaged the SUV. Firefighters covered the woman with a sheet to protect her from flying metal and glass and removed the front and rear driver’s side doors. They cut away the woman’s seatbelt but she still could not be freed. A heavy saw was deployed to cut away the door post. This is intricate work because door posts contain carbon dioxide cylinders that cinch seat belts upon braking. They can explode if not properly handled. As the firefighters worked, the woman’s condition deteriorated. A lifeflight helicopter was summoned. A landing zone was marked with orange cones. A passenger in the Jeep was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance and whisked away. The lifeflight arrived and two flight medics evaluated the woman who was freed from the Jeep soon after they arrived. She, too was put on a stretcher and carried to the chopper that whisked her off to the Macon Medical Center. Firefighters cleared the road, summoned two wreckers and reloaded their equipment for the next call which came not an hour later for an incident on I-75. This was a tableau that I have witnessed far more times than I care to remember. It is the picture of controlled chaos with flashing lights, sirens, moaning victims, frantic family members, buzzing extrication equipment, breaking glass, metal being ripped apart and dust, debris and litter blown about by a helicopter’s rotors. It dawned on me that this was the first time in a long time I had been to such a scene when Steve Andrews was not there, directing his men, offering up a silent prayer and keeping everyone calm. He is now busy fighting cancer. Fifteen minutes after the chopper lifted off you couldn’t even tell there had been an accident at the busy intersection. Steve trained his team well! Bows are $10. All the money goes to Steve and his family. We have them at the office but the prayer warriors really need help in tying the bows as the demand has skyrocketed. Give a little back for a man who has given so much to the community he loves. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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