AMHERST – The death last month of RCMP officer Const. Frank Deschenes is an example of the perils first responders face every day on the job.
It’s something that was not lost on those taking part in the Amherst Fire Department’s annual memorial day ceremonies that included a service at First Baptist Church and the laying of wreaths in front of the Amherst Fire Department.
“Frank’s passing and that of Craig Desjardins from EHS several years ago remind us of what can happen,” Amherst Fire Chief Greg Jones said. “You just never know what’s going to happen when you go into work and pull on the uniform. It’s an opportunity to pay tribute to them and it brings us all closer as a group.”
Deschenes, a member of RCMP Northwest Traffic Services who was based in Amherst, was killed in mid-September near Memramcook, N.B. when he was struck by a utility van on the side of the highway while assisting a motorist.
Members of the Amherst Fire Department were joined by police, representatives from the Correctional Service of Canada, EHS, the Royal Canadian Legion and the sea cadets in marching from the fire hall to the church and then back to the department where wreaths were laid by Mayor Dr. David Kogon, MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin and representatives from the Amherst Police Department, the legion, the firefighters association and the department’s ladies auxiliary.
There was also a moment of silence for all first responders who’ve died on the job.
“Today is a day when we think about all emergency responders and the work they do every day,” Jones said. “It’s also a day when we think about those who came before us and set the standard that we have today. It’s that one time of the when we can sit back and appreciate everything they’ve done for us.”
The significance of the day was not lost on Kogon. He said it’s important to recognize all first responders for keeping the community safe.
“They’re doing an important job and providing a vital service to the people of Amherst,” Kogon said of the fire department, police and EHS. “They are such an important piece of our community and we sometimes take them from granted.”
Kogon said Amherst has had some serious fires during its history, including the massive downtown fire in 2012 that destroyed the Windsor and Black Block buildings and threatened several other buildings in the heart of the downtown.
“We are so fortunate to have a professional and dedicated fire service that is there when they are needed,” Kogon said.