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Editorial: Our heroes walk among us, live next door to us

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opinion Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Heroes.

That word gets tossed around too casually, the net flung too widely.

But that's the only way to describe what occurred south of Nevis Saturday noon and the emergency responders who risked their lives to pull three people out of semi-frozen Island Lake.

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All three survived after their amphibious vehicle broke down, had its pontoons punctured by jagged ice and its engine flooded. It sunk with all three on board.

We're not even sure we could name all the agencies that responded, let alone the individuals. You know who you are. All we can do is thank you.

Nevis Fire & Rescue deserves a special commendation for leading the way.

Walker's Fire Department deserves a shout out for finishing the job under conditions that should have caused all involved to hesitate.

They were entering the icy water with a similar watercraft, like the one submerged in the lake.

The deputies, First Responders, volunteer firefighters and others all acted heroically, with precision and determination.

Not on our watch, the looks on their grim faces seemed to say.

As shouts arose from the ice during the hour-long rescue mission and new agencies kept flocking to the scene, the single enemy they were all working against was time.

The trio was in the icy waters 14 minutes. A timekeeper kept an eye on a stopwatch from shore and periodically announced the moments ticking by too quickly. No one panicked, but the moments passing added to the drama and urgency of the situation off-shore.

"About two more (minutes) and it would have been all over," said one rescuer.

Aside from the deputies and ambulance personnel, these are folks who volunteer their time to keep us safe. They left their families, lives and jobs without hesitation.

They meet monthly, weekly, all year round to train and re-train.

They've trained for ice dives, fires, chemical spills, extrications, explosions, bomb threats, car accidents, you name it.

It's deadly serious and there's no horsing around in the drills.

What hampered their efforts Saturday was the limited budgets they work with. It wasn't a shortage of experience, it was a shortage of equipment.

Much of those departmental budgets are donated funds. Many scrounge for grants and public dollars.

It shouldn't be that way.

If there was ever a cause this Christmas to give generously, this is the place to start. Volunteer firefighters and First Responders are always there for us.

It's time for us to be there for them.

Our heroes deserve nothing less.

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