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Dear Editor,

Our first responders earn outstanding recognition – very much deserved – during the major disasters which have affected so many of us in our Glen Ellen, Oakmont and Kenwood communities. They are dedicated to protecting us from the fires, floods, earthquakes and other calamities that, unfortunately, are increasing in frequency, prominence and impact.

What is perhaps overlooked – at least in my case – is what our first responders are doing during their much more frequent (thank goodness) “day jobs.” A recent event brought this home to me in bold relief. Last week, I was mountain biking with Matthew Mo, a very close family friend and Sonoma resident, in Jack London State Park on a glorious spring morning. We were single tracking towards the end of what was a challenging (and highly enjoyable) ride for me (still a novice), when my next conscious moment was looking up from the trail at my friend on the phone talking to a 911 dispatcher. Yes – I had crashed and no – I had no memory of the crash. It was either epic or serious depending on one’s point of view – hitting a deep rut at an angle at speed, flipping over three times in the air before coming to rest. What I eventually learned – but did not know at the time – was that I had suffered a concussion together with four fractures across my nose, left shoulder, right leg and lower back. I was sufficiently alert to know not to move a muscle.

Matt immediately contacted 911, the dispatcher was able to quickly determine our location working with Matt and then contact the Glen Ellen Fire Department. Carlos, Kyle and Paul – the first responders from GEFD – arrived on a very cool Polaris ATV within 10 minutes of my crash. In very short order they had me stabilized, shifted to a portable stretcher, into the back of the ATV and on my way down a service road to meet an ambulance (from the Al Mazza Fire Station in Sonoma) which spirited me away to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The GEFD team was amazing – as professional, experienced and efficient as they were understanding, caring and empathetic. These guys genuinely cared about what they were doing – and about me. When I said I felt guilty that an accident I caused was potentially taking them away from more serious accidents, their response – this is what we are here for – you. They meant it.

And later, they insisted on returning my mountain bike to our home in Glen Ellen. And not just the bike – they collected my biking backpack, sunglasses (in five pieces which I was able to reassemble good as new), helmet (cracked in five places – it did its job), bike shoes and gloves (scraped and shredded) – all of which were returned home.

For Carlos, Kyle, Paul and the entire GEFD crew, my sincere and genuine appreciation for making a difference each and every day of your “day jobs.” This should get more recognition.

Chris Lammers Glen Ellen