We had a large amount of rain in northern Colorado this last week, and a forecast for occasional wet weather continues into the weekend.
When we get a lot of rain like this, it’s easy to think back to 1997 when one of the worst floods in the recorded history of Fort Collins was caused by a mega-rainstorm. During one long, dangerous night, a business area near Colorado State University was wiped out. Homes were flooded. Lives were lost.
What paramedics, emergency medical technicians and other emergency responders did that night was extremely brave.
The storm became a triple threat: flood, train derailment and fire.
Some members of our emergency response crews risked their lives by wading into deep flooding waters to retrieve victims. Nearby there were partly flooded buildings on fire. Phone and electrical lines were falling and sparking in the dark of night. Natural gas bubbled up through the flood waters from broken pipelines.
One of our paramedics, Greg Rhoads, now a shift supervisor for our ambulance service, summed it up at the time by saying: “It was chaos.”
Many of our employees were suddenly homeless as the waters destroyed their dwellings, vehicles, clothing, all that they owned. The same was true for many city residents.
PVHS employees responded with donations of money, clothing, taking in families of dislocated employees and other city residents. Other community members responded in the same fashion. In all of this tragedy, our community came together with compassion and enthusiasm for helping others.
National Emergency Medical Response Week goes through May 21. If you see a paramedic or EMT—or a firefighter or police officer—I ask that you take a moment and extend your thanks. They’re out there—sometimes risking their lives—for the rest of us.