TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – For first responders, an emergency can happen at any moment, meaning some have to stand ready no matter the day. This includes holidays like Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is typically a day reserved for food, family, and football, but for some first responders in the Wabash Valley, it means another opportunity to keep their community safe.
“This job varies day to day, a lot of times holidays don’t seem to impact that. It can be just like a normal day. So, it’s entirely up to the public on how the day goes,” said Sgt. Rory Leech, Vigo County Sheriff’s Office.
Although the day does consist of working, Leech says with some adjustments, deputies with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office can still find time to celebrate Thanksgiving.
“There’s different shifts and different shifts come on obviously at different times. If you work an evening shift, you might be celebrating your Thanksgiving right now and then come on in to work later on the evening,” Leech said.
For firefighters, the situation is a bit different due to the way shifts are assigned, meaning holidays can sometimes be spent solely at a fire station.
“Our shifts here are 24 hours on, 48 hours off. So we spend technically 33% of our lives with our coworkers,” said Kevin Murphy, Honey Creek Fire Department battalion chief.
On days like Thanksgiving, Murphy says the Honey Creek Fire Department must be on alert for any calls they may receive but the days differ from their normal workload.
“There’s a little less paperwork, a little less day-to-day, a little less on the training side of things, just a little more freedom to do what we want to do,” Murphy said.
Pre-pandemic, Murphy says crews would have a Thanksgiving meal at the fire station with their family and coworkers but this year that has been scaled back.
“We’re just getting together as a small shift and enjoying a meal, socially distanced meal, out here in the apparatus bay versus inside in the close confines as we normally would have,” Murphy said.
Murphy says it does seem as if on holidays that the fire department does receive fewer calls.
He says that may be even more true this year as some have avoided larger gatherings.