As I write this on an icy cold Tuesday morning, I’m returning from covering the fifth car accident I’ve attended in as many days. Over the past five days, I’ve witnessed the aftermath of accidents ranging from the absurd to the tragic. The circumstances may differ, but the people link them all together.
Many people misconstrue why reporters cover car accidents and/or emergencies in general. I’ll admit that before I started reporting, I did, too. We’re considered heartless individuals who prey on the misfortunes of others for money, fame, or some other equally diabolical purpose. From my perspective, that’s simply not true.
I would rather never report on emergency situations, but I do. When our police scanner goes off, I run to my car without a moment’s hesitation. Why? Because I imagine the mother, worried sick about her son or daughter who’s out driving alone for the first time, who hears through the grapevine about a wreck. Gossip and rumors spread like wildfire in a small community, and before long, the facts of the event are distorted to the point where you can’t be sure of anything. In a flash, this mother has gone from nervous to panic-stricken, replaying scenarios over and over. Was her child involved in the wreck? Are the people okay? What happened?
I cover emergency situations for her. I have the ability and the responsibility to her and all the people who read my newspaper to inform them of the news that is pertinent to them. I have the ability and the responsibility to all of my readers to report to them facts and truth.
And people in my community care about the facts. You proved that when my story about the tragic accident on Anneta Road on Saturday, January 11 (the details of which can be found in this edition of the paper) went viral on social media. You proved that you care about your fellow Grayson Countians by contacting everyone you knew to find out what had happened and by putting your trust in me to inform you. I write these stories for you and am constantly moved by your compassion for your loved ones.
So am I heartless because I willingly become an active participant in these tragedies? While my role is nowhere near as vital, and I would never claim it to be such, from my standpoint, this accusation would be akin to calling the firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel heartless. First responders attend emergency after emergency because they want to protect the people they serve. And don’t think for a second these events don’t affect them. The people they rescue are their family, friends, and neighbors, too.
First responders serve because they care. So do I.