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Thanks, officers
Thanks to two police officers who saved a life

Date published: 9/22/2013

ONE NEWS REPORT said 1,600 first responders reacted to the active-shooter call at the Navy Yard last week. Meanwhile, in Fredericksburg, two of their brethren made a big difference in a young girl's life.

For police officers, "to serve and protect" is a multi-faceted charge. Not only are they called to maintain order in a civilized society, but also to lend a helping hand in many a situation. And so it was for two Fredericksburg officers last week.

Lt. Bill Hallam and Officer Ryan Merrell were the first to arrive at the scene of a house fire on Oak Street in the city early on Tuesday. What they saw when they arrived must have been chilling: A young girl hanging out of a second-story window, smoke pouring out around her, the fire approaching from within, her mother frantically pointing up at her from the backyard.

Cruisers aren't equipped with ladders. Nor do officers have fire protection gear. But that didn't stop these resourceful men. Mr. Merrell went to the neighbors', found a ladder, and returned. But it was 3 feet too short to reach the window, which was 16 feet off the ground. Still they were not deterred. Risking a fall, Mr. Hallam climbed the ladder while Mr. Merrell steadied it. Together they were able to rescue the frightened teen.

In their actions, Mr. Hallam and Mr. Merrell embodied what it means to "serve and protect." Though they were cops, not firefighters, they dealt with the situation at hand and most probably saved a life.

The community owes a debt of gratitude to these officers and their fellow first-responders. Police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers never know what they will face during each shift and every time they answer a call. The rest of us are just fortunate that they take seriously their charge.