Written by Kennedy Calton  • Photos by Jordan Weaver and provided.

What does it take to be a hero?

Is it a cape, superpowers and a fast car? Maybe. Or at least this is the image that has been installed in our heads since we were young from comic books, action figurines and movies.

But that’s not the type of heroes we have in real life. The heroes we have are working and serving right here among us, making the Lake area a better and safer place to live every day. These uniformed heroes are motivated, dedicated and highly educated members of society. They serve our communities by helping citizens in times of extreme crisis and disaster, as well as performing small works of kindness such as getting your keys out of your locked car or moving a fallen tree limb out of the road.
These heroes have a calling to work within the community in an effort to serve and provide lasting effects to the citizens of the area, treating each man and woman, boy and girl as if they were their extended family.

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WHO ARE THESE UNIFORMED HEROES?

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.51.57 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.54.04 PMThere are several organizations that work together in every community to ensure the best quality of life for those who live there. These include police departments, sheriff offices, fire protection districts and emergency medical services. Each of these offer high-quality service and advanced leadership through their trained and educated employees. These men and women work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide a better place for the citizens and visitors of the place they call home.

Police departments and sheriff offices around the Lake area pride themselves in providing a sense of security, reducing crime, enforcing the law and assisting the court and those in need in order to protect the lives and property surrounding us. These men and women serve the Lake area with compassionate hearts and concerned eyes as they work within the moral and rightful standards that are set by the citizens of our community and the law. These departments and offices offer a wide range of services such as safety patrols, investigations, business and residential checks, traffic control and more.
Fire departments, like other first response services, are multidiscipline departments filled with professional and highly trained teams with expertise in handling situations such as fire suppression, rescue services, medical services, code enforcement and inspections, and more.

These services are all based on concerns of safety for the public, and are distributed among four divisions: training, operations, fire prevention and support services. Some people may believe that firefighters only respond to fire calls, but these departments actually assist with other incidents such as hazardous materials, odor investigations, and other aid to law enforcement and additional forms of public safety.

Certain emergencies require immediate medical care. The ambulance Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.54.22 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.52.22 PMservices are extremely important to the community as they save lives daily. They take pride in their three basic principles: preserve lives, prevent further injury and foster recovery. These emergency medical teams are equipped with paramedics and EMTs who respond to emergency calls and dispatch as needed. After quickly arriving on the scene, they work diligently to stabilize those in need and continue to provide medical care for the patient during the transport to a medical facility — if necessary — that can provide the medical attention needed.

In extreme circumstances when the patient requires attention that cannot be provided at local facilities or is needed more quickly, air flight service is called upon. Staff for Life has a total of three bases that provide critical care and emergency transport, with one being based at Lake Regional Hospital. With partnerships with the leader of air medical transport, Air Methods Healthcare, Staff for Life is able to stay up-to-date on all technological advances, guaranteeing
the best possible service for their patients.

AN EMS UNIQUE TO THE LAKE

The Lake of the Ozarks is a locale filled with not only residents of the community, but also many visitors, as the area is a booming tourist attraction. With this growing population, the number of water-related accidents have also increased. The Lake’s public safety organizations realize the need to offer a service that can provide rapid service and assistance via water. These water rescue and recovery teams are made up of firefighters from departments throughout the Lake area who have been trained in special operations. They commonly assist the fire department and water patrol in accidents, injuries and drownings. Dive teams also  are  essential in order to recover any weapons, vehicles or evidence that     may be needed.

CREATINGScreen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.49.44 PM AN EDUCATED PUBLICScreen Shot 2016-08-25 at 2.54.32 PM

Special services by these public safety organizations are provided through education and awareness. These programs inform citizens with knowledge they may find useful in emergency situations and crisis. The Camdenton Fire Department believes that, “If safety can be learned starting at an early age, then it will stay with our children throughout their lives.” Because of this, many fire- and life-safety programs are presented to schools and offered to the community. These programs include teaching fire prevention, how to respond in emergency situations, drug and alcohol prevention, medical techniques such as CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, and many more.

Likewise, these organizations are constantly seeking to collaborate with the public in order to better understand the needs and concerns of citizens. They strive to be active and involved in the community, joining other organizations, boards and community-service events, as well as collaborating with elected officials, schools, etc. By participating in the community in these ways, they also offer to the public a sense that they are welcomed and encouraged to visit, voice their opinion and ask any questions that may arise.

BEHIND THE UNIFORM

The men and women behind these organizations need to be highly educated, exceptionally trained, carefully selected, compassionate, and respected within their communities. Mid County Fire Protection District’s website lists characteristics that can be attested to as traits that all these uniformed heroes possess:
• Those who are constantly giving of themselves and expect nothing in return.
• Those who must rise above themselves to conquer the most overwhelming situations.
• Those who sacrifice their lives so that others may live.
• Those who believe they aren’t heroes; they’re just doing their job.

RED, WHITE AND TRUE

Our community superheroes are made up of many men and women just like ourselves. They’re our neighbors and friends in uniform watching out for our safety 24/7. They may not wear a cape or have superpowers — although sometimes it seems as if they do — but they protect us all the same. Now in this time reflecting on recent headlining news events, we citizens have a much better understanding of the dangerous situations they face daily. No job comes with greater selflessness, and they do it for all of us. •