Manataka™ American Indian Council





Blessed are the Merciful

by Dr. Fred Wilcoxson


No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthy action, but the consciousness of having served his nation. ~Joseph Brant ‘Thayendanegea’ Mohawk

The following is just one of thousands of stories about first responders who on a daily basis risk their lives to come to the aid of those in need. I believe that it is as important to remember and to pray for the safety and health of our troops at home and abroad, and all of the first responders from Police, Fire, EMS, Public Services, and Clergy who serve us twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.


On the afternoon of November 21, 2008, a tanker filled with propane gas overturned on I-80 at the mouth of Parleys Canyon spilling its contents. When paramedics and fire crews arrived they found the driver alive but trapped in the vehicle.


Propane fumes were mixing with the air. The driver was suffering from lack of oxygen caused by the fumes. He was in the midst of a very explosive situation and he couldn’t get out of the truck.


A single source of ignition could set off a deadly chain of events. One spark could cause the fumes to flame, the fire would race back toward its source, to the overturned, leaking tanker. The remaining liquid in the tank would boil and turn the tanker into a blow torch, which would ignite the second trailer, still standing and full of product.


But, the crews didn’t hesitate. They immediately went to work to get the driver out! Paramedics Jason Coble and Eric Van Duren were first into the cab with paramedics Mitch King, Brian Withers and Engineer Scott Hancock close behind.


Engineer John Stewart and Captain Chuck Higgins diligently sprayed water between the cab and the leaking propane, in an effort to protect the driver and emergency personnel. Firefighter Lynn Egbert, Heavy Rescue Tech Travis Hobbs and Paramedics Jubal Perez and Keith Plagemann started moving equipment to the scene to help. When the driver was finally removed from the truck, he was placed on a backboard. These heroes ran half a mile, carrying the man to a waiting ambulance.


Battalion Chief Jim Bacon said, “Everyone knew the hazards that they were working in and yes everyone was scared, but they also knew that the driver could not and would not survive without them doing the job they were trained to do.”


Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:7-9 NIV