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Remembering 9/11 is chance to thank first responders

Henderson County’s Sept. 11 commemoration was an opportunity to praise and thank the hundreds of first responders who answer the call to help their neighbors in need day and night.

The N.C. General Assembly designated Sept. 11 as First Responders Day, Jimmy Brissie, the county’s emergency management director, told the gathering on the plaza at the Historic Courthouse on Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed more than 3,000 people, including 403 first responders.
Commissioner Grady Hawkins, a retired Air Force colonel, said the county has much to be thankful for in its corps of first responders.
“You might note that we have 13 fire departments, we have the county rescue squad, the county EMS, the sheriff’s office and four local police departments, two public safety 911 communication centers, state agencies like the Highway Patrol, State Bureau of Investigation, Wildlife officers, under what I would call first responders,” Hawkins said. The county has more than 600 fire and rescue workers — paid and volunteer — and more than 300 law officers.
Hawkins noted that as he spoke “there is a wrecking ball hurricane by the name of Florence that many of you that are here will probably end up having to respond to in our state or other states.”
Sept. 11 forced first responders nationally to devise better coordination of response to emergencies and better communications and Henderson County has led in both. “Since 9/11, this county has spent almost $2 million upgrading our facilities that handle communications,” he said.
“After 9/11 one of the other things that became apparent was training.” The county’s new emergency management headquarters will allow for more training and coordination of training.
“Emergency responders, before they ever respond to an EMS call or fire call, have hours and hours of training,” Hawkins said. “Technicians require over 300 hours, 1,000 hours for paramedic, the list goes on and on. Even after all that training is accomplished, they practice their professional trade as they’re called upon. The dedication and self-sacrifice that our first responders make surely are deserving of our General Assembly declaring today First Responders Day. We in Henderson County can be justifiably proud of all our first responders and the self-sacrifice they make and the courage they show and we wish them the best in the future.”