Working holidays part of first responders’ job description

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

The Christmas and New Year’s holiday may be a long weekend for many this year, but not for some dedicated professionals.

Work doesn’t take a holiday when it comes to public safety.

Area fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies will be operating as they would any other day.

“It can be hard for those with families to work on the holiday,” said Clovis Fire Department Lt. Joel Gershon. “Working during holidays is just part of the job.”

Clovis, Portales and Tucumcari fire departments and EMS will be operating with normal crews. Others first-responders are on stand-by status.

“In the event something major happens their are volunteers from the county (who) will respond to help,” Portales Fire Department Battalion Chief Lance Hill said.

Hill said the six county agencies in Roosevelt County will lend aid if needed and Portales is prepared to do the same in kind.

Spokespersons at each of the fire and EMS agencies agreed — weather plays a major role in call volume throughout the year.

Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry said the men and women of EMS and fire services work year round and even on holidays for two main reasons.

“Number one, they want to give back and serve their community,” Cherry said. “Number two, they like what they do. They like to help people and lend a hand when one is needed.”

Area law enforcement agencies are gearing up to ensure public safety during the holidays.

“The normal shifts will be out on patrol,” said Portales Police Department Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry.

Berry said many calls during New Year’s are loud party complaints, gunfire and fireworks.

“Some people might shoot a gun at midnight or fireworks,” Berry said. “We want to remind people to please be safe. When you shoot up in the air that bullet has to come down and … can lead to injuries or property damage.

All area agencies are making DWI saturation patrols a priority during the New Year’s weekend.

Berry said they will be working with Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office to blanket the area.