Doylestown Hospital thanked the volunteer firefighters who came when called and stayed until the job was done.
It was the first time Bill Meyer, deputy chief of the Plumsteadville Fire Company, wasn't with his wife at midnight on New Year's Eve in more than 20 years.
At around 11 pm when he got the call, he kissed Beth and headed for Doylestown Hospital
"That's part of the commitment," he said.
Six local fire companies – comprised of all volunteers – answered the call on the night of December 31, 2013 when a water line failure affected three floors of the hospital. There was no interruption to patient care, but equipment and essential records were at risk.
Midway Fire Co. Chief Hugh Hager heeded the call "just before the ball dropped." "It was a mess," he said of the scene upon arrival. "Water was still dripping from the ceilings and there was about two inches of water on the floor."
Hager told his crew to "bring in all the tarps."
Firefighters covered sensitive equipment, squeegeed and vacuumed the floors and prevented the water from spreading further. They reassured the Doylestown Hospital Associates who were there that everything would be alright.
All while the rest of the world celebrated New Year’s Eve.
Since they gave up their holiday for the hospital, Doylestown Hospital held a "New Year's Eve party" for them Wednesday night, serving up dinner and appreciation.
"This is a true example of community at work," said Carolyn Della-Rodolfa, chairman of the Board of Directors of Doylestown Hospital. "We live in a great community."
"We don't do it for the recognition, but it's nice to be thanked," said Doylestown Fire Chief Sam Cramer, Jr.
Volunteer firefighters do what they do for various reasons. For many, you might say it's in their genes. Doylestown Fire Co.'s Rebecca Loux, RN, is a third-generation firefighter who "grew up in the firehouse. I always wanted to do it," said the 24-year-old. Her dad was battalion chief, her sister also joined the company and her mom is involved in the ladies auxiliary.
"It's nice to help your neighbors," added Dan Talenti, MD, a Doylestown firefighter who happens to be a doctor. "It brings together people from all walks of life who you might not otherwise meet."
Midway's Chief Hager joined when he was 16 – that was 50 years ago. "I can't imagine not doing it," he said. He characterized his fellow volunteers as a second family.
Interrupted family dinners, holidays cut short and missed birthday parties for the kids are just part of the territory when you're a volunteer firefighter.
"For us, we're always on call," said Joe Fuchs, RN. He is deputy chief of the Warrington Fire Co. and an operating room nurse at Doylestown Hospital. "Our wives are kind of used to it."
Joe stayed at Doylestown Hospital until about 3 a.m. on New Year's to help secure equipment and clean up the water. "It was a great response from everybody," he added.
"When you're a volunteer firefighter you never know where you're going to be," said Chalfont Fire Co.'s Bob Price. He and fellow firefighter Joe Adams had a quick apple juice "toast" at midnight on the second floor of the hospital. "It's one of those things you won't forget. It's what we do."
These volunteer firefighters and the hospital have a few things in common. They both care for the well being of others. And the hospital relies on nearly 1,000 adult and teen volunteers who are dedicated to serving patients and families.
When the emergency was over, Doylestown Hospital started 2014 just like any other year, committed to serving the community, whenever called upon to do so.
Just like the firefighters.
Fire companies that responded that evening were:
About Doylestown Health
Doylestown Health is a comprehensive system of inpatient, outpatient and community services connected to meet the health and wellness needs of all members of the community. Our independent and nonprofit system is dedicated to healthcare excellence from childbirth to end-of-life care.
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