H aving just celebrated Thanksgiving, it is timely and appropriate, I think, to remember all those folks who have been going above and beyond the call of duty in their service to mankind.
Yes, I'm thankful for my family, too, because quite honestly my life wouldn't have much meaning without them in it. But they know that because I tell them all the time.
So what follows applies to good people doing wonderful things, who are not members of my family.
I've been keeping a list, of sorts, for the last month or so. And at the very top of that list are all those men and women in York County who responded to areas outside York County -- New Jersey and New York, mostly -- that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
First responders of all kinds -- paramedics, EMTs and ambulance personnel -- headed east at the first opportunity once Sandy moved through the area. And they certainly had plenty to do, given all the destruction and human emergencies they faced.
Then a week later, they did it again when heavy snows raked the East Coast.
Yorkers have done these things numerous times in the past, of course, wherever there has been a natural disaster. Louisiana and Mississippi, for example, after Hurricane Katrina. The western states during wild fires and following earthquakes. And floods, wherever they might occur.
York County is filled with generous souls. We've proved that over and over again.
But this time was a little different because it hit so close to home.
Dennis Reigart, president and CEO of the West York Ambulance Co. in West Manchester Township, was especially proud of paramedic Nick Laughman and EMTs Scott Hoff and Brian Tancraitor who headed to New Jersey just one day after Sandy passed .
While in New Jersey, the three men were on constant duty responding to emergency calls for six days. That required them to actually eat, sleep and live out of the ambulance they were working in. Not enough cots to go around, it seems, showers every two or three days and the food was mostly military rations.
This was no vacation. They were there to do a job.
"They were basically doing what they were trained to do," Reigart said.
West York medics clocked about 1,000 miles traveling to and from New Jersey, Reigart said, mostly in the central and northern parts of that state.
A 10-member group of medics from around York County made the trip to New Jersey. That included five White Rose Ambulance employees and two medics from Wellspan Health.
And once they returned, another group of medics from York County formed and headed right back to the hardest-hit areas of New Jersey and New York.
Let's not forget the contingent from Met-Ed that worked in areas all up and down the East Coast, doing their best to restore electricity to homes, towns and cities that did without power for days and, in some cases, for more than a week.
That's just the tip of the iceberg that represents York County's response. Several churches sent volunteer work crews into the affected areas to assist with cleanup. Men and women with carpentry skills helped with repairs and rebuilding efforts.
Nursing personnel headed to hospitals and community clinics to help where and however they could.
And here at home, children and adults rallied to raise money and collect clothing, toys and food to send into those areas along the East Coast that were hit the hardest.
We got off lucky here in York County with Sandy. And we know it.
But we didn't just accept our good fortune and go on about our business.
A lot of good-hearted people threw themselves into the thick of it.
They didn't have to, but they did. They never asked what they might get out of it, they just went.
So here's a tip of the cap to them. They are, indeed, something for which we all can be thankful.
And I am.
Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.