In the past month two first responders lost their lives doing their job.

Jeff Buck, an 18-year-old firefighter with the Lawrence Township Fire Company in Clearfield County, succumbed to his injuries Monday at UPMC Altoona. He died six days after being trapped beneath a porch roof that collapsed during a blaze at a central Pennsylvania home. Buck was a Clearfield Area High School senior.

He was one of three firefighters on the porch when the roof collapsed March 3. The other two were treated and released for minor injuries.

A tragic accident took the life of first responder Janice Livingston, 38, who was responding to multiple accidents in Upper Yoder Township.  Janice was struck and killed by a truck.  Janice was a mother of two young girls. Janice spent the last ten years with the West End Ambulance Service.  She worked her way up from a part time worker to supervisor at the station. 

Jeff and Janice provide a sad reminder to us all that what they do is inherently dangerous. No one could foresee the collapse of a porch roof. Certainly the danger is always present. Any time a structure is on fire, the forces of nature come into play and apparently sound structures react differently when subjected to heat and stress. The result is a sudden collapse and that often happens with no advance warning. The result is often tragic.

When Janice answered the call on that fateful morning she was doing something she had done dozens of times before. Who could foretell that on this morning a driver would lose control and end her life.

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Jeff and Janice had a full life ahead of them but they chose to put all of those tomorrows behind the needs of others. No amount of public sympathy or monetary donations can replace a parent, daughter or son.

Jeff and Janice are part of a very small, select group of people who are willing to put themselves at great risk for others. Sadly, there seem to be fewer and fewer people willing to do so. Jeff and Janice answered when called, ignoring the ever present risk.

I hope we all think of Jeff and Janice the next time we hear the wail of the siren. Perhaps we should offer a prayer for the men and women answering the call. They are answering a higher calling.


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