The faces behind river rescue revealed
Thu, 19 May 2011 23:47:43 GMT —
Saturday emergency crews recovered the body of a Quincy man who drowned earlier this month on the Mississippi River.
While we reported on that search, you don't hear about the people behind the scenes.
That recovery was made by members of the Quincy Volunteer Emergency Corps.
They're not in it for accolades, because there aren't any. And they don't do it because it pays. It's not a glamorous job and sometimes it's downright heartbreaking ... but they say someone's got to do it.
They're the 53 members of the Quincy Volunteer Emergency Corps. They keep the boats manned with volunteers, running on their own fuel to find victims lost in the muddy waters of the Mississippi.
Corps Volunteer Glenn Sanders said, "Someone has to step in and keep it going and that's where the emergency corps comes in. They're there from the very beginning and they're a stubborn group of guys. They'll be there until the mission is accomplished."
But regardless of the emergency, these guys and gals step forward and volunteer their time, boats and fuel to find missing loved ones on the Mississippi. Whenever the call comes, of a possible drowning or river emergency, members head out alongside paid emergency responders, but in their own john boats. They never give up until the body is recovered.
Adams County Sheriff Fischer said, "They're the backbone of operations we had on the river."
These volunteers definitely don't seek the limelight, in fact I had to talk them into speaking with me. When asked why they do it ... it's virtually always the same answer.
Corps Volunteer Melinda Goehl said, "We do it to bring closure to the families because if it were our family member we'd want someone looking."
Even when paid emergency responders have to cease their search, it doesn't end for this band of boaters. That determination and longtime skill is why their searches almost always end with a real funeral for the victim.
Howard Hackamack said, "The guys involved have been raised around the river and know the river and the currents, the depth, what to do and how to do it."
Sanders said, "They put aside their family life and everything until they get the job done."
Today families who began with the group more than 60 years ago are still passing on the skills through the generations. Fathers teaching sons and daughters what grandpa taught them about the river.
Sanders said, "We are there ... we're filling a need and not just in the recovery end but sometimes they're the first ones called anytime there is an emergency on the river. Sometimes we get to make the rescue, not just the recovery, and that's better yet.'
Goehl said, "We don't think twice about it. We just go out and do what we need to to get them back with their families."
Folks with the emergency corps say as long as there's a river to patrol ... they'll be here to help in your time of need.
The Quincy Volunteers Emergency Corps operates almost completely off of donations and volunteers' time and fuel. Although it serves the entire community, it receives only $2 thousand dollars from the city of Quincy.
But during river searches like the one last week, more than a thousand dollars worth of fuel was burned daily when dragging the river.