Department pride not the first priority

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It was tragic enough that a little girl died and another person was injured during a wreck near Minooka Park in Jemison on April 8. But now what happened after the wreck is becoming just as big of a controversy.

Phillip Rachels, chief of the North Chilton Volunteer Fire Department, was arrested for interfering with a government operation after his was one of two departments to respond to the wreck. The issue became which department should be the one giving orders on the scene.

We’re not going to pass judgment on any of the parties involved, but it is unfortunate that a territorial dispute came out of the wreck in the first place.

The wreck occurred in one department’s jurisdiction, but the call was made in the other department’s jurisdiction. Not knowing which department to call, E911 dispatched them both. That’s a much better decision than dispatching neither because the first priority in this situation should have been the health of those involved in the wreck. The importance of that fundamental aspect may have been lost when both fire departments were on the scene. That shouldn’t happen.

There are too many firefighters in Chilton County that volunteer their time to work hard in a thankless job with only the best interest of the people they serve in mind for this incident to damage the reputation of all our firefighters.