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Lighting the way

Parade of flashing lights, sirens gives Pocahontas a show of strength

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Members of the Pocahontas Emergency Services make their way from the fire station Wednesday evening as they prepare to drive around the community to let people know they’re still on duty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

POCAHONTAS — The sky Wednesday evening was a gloomy shade of steel gray, the streets freshly wet from a cold drizzle as the gathering night settled down.

Then the lights came on as they always will.

Red, blue, white, flashing, spinning.

Their source was every fire truck in the Pocahontas Fire Department’s station, two Pocahontas County sheriff’s vehicles, an ambulance from the Pocahontas Community Hospital and the Pocahontas Police Department’s squads, all parked in formation in front of the fire station. After about 10 minutes, the vehicles drove around the community in a very colorful and very noisy parade.

The event was to give Pocahontas residents a sign of strength and hope in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s left many in the community indoors in their homes.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
One of the Pocahontas Fire Department’s trucks, with its reflection in a water puddle, makes its way through the community Wednesday during a parade to let the community they’re still on duty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tessa Wallace is an EMT with the Pocahontas Community Hospital.

She appreciates those who are helping keep their family, neighbor and her, safe by following guidelines and precautions.

“Thank you,” she said. “That’s what needs to happen. Thank you for listening.”

As a health care worker, she’s had to take her own extra precautions to protect her family at home.

“I get home and I change shoes, clothing. I change everything. It goes straight into the washing machine and I go straight into the shower,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
With a little guidance from Pocahontas fire fighter Lee Beneke, rigtht, Pocahontas Community Hospital EMT Tessa Wallace backs her rig into place in front of the fire station Wednesday evening.

While Pocahontas County, as of Wednesday, had no confirmed COVID-19 cases, she knows the day may come.

She’s not afraid.

“No,” she said.

Lee Beneke, a Pocahontas firefighter, was helping line up the trucks in front of the fire station. He would be driving one later as they made their way around town.

“Please listen to what they’re saying,” Beneke said. “They’re working to make everything alright for us to get back to normal again.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Before the start of their parade around the community, the emergency services agencies that serve the community lined up in front of the fire station and turned on all their lights.

He still has to go to work every day. He works on a farm.

“I still go to work,” he said. “It doesn’t stop. The food sources never stop.”

Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Steve Nelson drove his pickup squad in the parade.

He and his deputies are taking precautions.

“We’re all set with with wipes, sanitizer and Lysol,” he said. “We try to maintain as much distance as possible but if there’s a call, we respond.”

He said that new inmates in the jail are being screened and the dispatchers have also started screening calls for medical services if there’s time.

He misses being able to interact directly with the community.

“We enjoy being social with our community,” he said.

For now, that means a wave, a flash of the lights and a blast of the siren.

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