Join in today: Jefferson, Orange & Hardin chambers saluting 1st Responders

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, March 4, 2020

After the TPC explosion, Pat Avery got to thinking about the importance of the first responders who run into danger as others are going out.

“This brought back so many memories of situations around our country where that happens, and I thought this is a great purpose to come together as a region to honor the tireless men and women for what they do,” said Avery, president and CEO of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce.

The event she is speaking of is the Jefferson, Orange and Hardin Counties First Responders Luncheon that will be held March 31 at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center. Buffet opens at 11 a.m. and the program begins at 11:30 a.m.

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Avery said we, as citizens, sometimes take first responders for granted as we drive past a wreck on the road.

“It calls to attention when something big happens,” she said. “Our first responders are dealing with danger, loss of life, injuries each and every day of their lives, and there is nothing like something big happening to bring it to our attention.”

The emergency dispatchers also need recognition because they calm the community, give instructions and reassure that everything is going to be OK, Avery added.

Avery retired from her post as human resources and community relations manager for Total and then landed in the Chamber position. She knows all to well the dangers that can happen in a petrochemical industry setting. The safety and emergency response team members are the ones who can get a stranded worker off of a 10-story piece of equipment safely.

“You never know how much skill is involved to keep themselves safe and bring that person down to safety,” she said.

She recalled a time when an electrician was working on a live wire and was shocked. A first responder brought the man back to life before EMS arrived.

“These are our everyday heroes and she-roes,” she said.

She also realizes seeing life and death in emergency settings can take a toll emotionally. In 2011 her 25-year-old niece and 4-year-old great niece named after Pat died of smoke inhalation after a fire in Georgia. Firefighters had to go in and get the mother and daughter out.

“He saw my niece holding that baby trying to get out, and just the fact he needed help to deal with that, to overcome that, when he told me that story I immediately got an ulcer in my stomach. It hit me real hard. You never think about what they go through,” she said.

The idea that the upcoming luncheon is a regional event is a positive to Avery. She said this is the kind of regionalism the area needs to display more often.

For sponsorship and ticket information, call the chamber at 409-963-1107. The last day to register is March 27.