Feature Story                                                                           Monday, February 1, 2016


A Service For Those In Service

Alliance Church pays tribute to local first responders
Staff/Voice photos


Firefighter Greg Zutter, who's arm is in a sling, speaks with Alliance Church Pastor Leon Throness about what it's like being paid-on-call. Below, BCAS paramedic Roxanne Lush sings the National Anthem with beaming pride.


irst responders care about and are committed to the communities they live and work in. No one could ever say the community doesn't care about them after almost 1000 people jammed the Chilliwack Alliance Church Sunday, January 24, as a show of appreciation and to pay tribute to paramedics, firefighters, police, search and rescue and others involved in keeping everyone safe.


"I think this is going to be a really cool ceremony because we're here to honour these good people," pastor Leon Throness told the congregation.


All the services had representative at the church. The Chilliwack Fire Department were also attending a line-of-duty death memorial in Surrey. When that happens, they all go, no questions.


BCAS paramedic Roxanne Lush together with MLA Laurie Throness on the piano, opened the service with a euphonious rendition of the National Anthem.


Afterward, Throness spoke to the congregation and followed up with a passage of scripture.


"This morning we're focusing not so much on our relationship with the Lord, or the Kingdom of God and the spiritual kingdom, but we're focusing on how we are and live in society as we thank and honour those who keep watch over us," he said.


Other familiar faces were in attendance including veteran and RCMP Chaplain Angus Haggarty, MP Mark Strahl and MLA John Martin.


Martin said he was very happy to be there.


"Thank you very much. Itís an absolute pleasure to be here at this very special and important and significant event," he said before bringing greetings from the premier of the province, Christy Clark;


"As premier of the province of British Columbia, Iím very pleased to join with members of Chilliwack Alliance Church in recognizing and honouring first responders and emergency service personnel. To thank the men and women who regularly put their lives on the line to serve and protect citizenís, property and community. One of the most important things people impacted by an emergency need is the comfort of knowing that the first responders know what they are doing. Their professionalism, and their training, mean a difference between life and death, keep us safe and save people when theyíre experiencing their weakest and most vulnerable moments," said Martin.


MLA John Martin speaks about the importance of first responders January 24 at the Alliance Church.


"Caution and understanding are key to giving people peace of mind when they are true heroes with the important work they do each and every day. Thank you to the first responders who serve and protect the community of Chilliwack so very well, and thank you to Chilliwack Alliance Church for arranging this very special appreciation service," concluded Martin.


Strahl then took the stage with his address from Parliament, acknowledging Pastor Throness and Wayne Massey for their efforts in putting the tribute service together.


"It's a great service to the community and means a lot to reach out to men and women in uniform and people that put their lives on the line for us every day, and we want to say thank-you to you as well," said Strahl.


He talked about attending a bravery medal presentation recently at Governor-General David Johnston's residence in Ottawa.


"Governor General Johnston spoke about people that run into a burning building, people that run towards gunfire, people that run towards chaos when the rest of us are walking away, and I saw that firsthand when we had a terrorist attack in Ottawa, where people were taking cover and trying to get away, and members of the RCMP and our security forces were running towards the danger to protect others. Thatís what their job is and they do it well. We think of them today as well as the hundreds of Canadian forces that are serving abroad to protect Canadian values, Canadian interests and protecting the innocent."


Alliance pastor Wayne Massey speaks with RCMP officer David Peat. Below, a church member signs a thank-you poster.


The RCMP brought Alexa's Bus, a travelling educational tool to help spread the awareness of impaired driving. The bus got its name from a 4-year-old Delta girl who was struck and killed by a drunk driver.


Alliance Church pastor Wayne Massey spoke with RCMP officer David Peat, asking him how effective the bus has been.


"This is a lasting legacy to an innocent little girl, her family got behind it, and the province and everyone got behind them to raise the money to make this happen," remarked Massey.


"Itís been hugely successful," said Peat. "Lots of impaired drivers have been taken off the road through use of the bus with messages of the day for traffic safety. Last summer was the first full summer that we had our bus on the road as far north as Prince George, as far east as Nelson, Vancouver Island from one end of the island to the other and all over the Lower Mainland."


One of the hardest jobs is a POC firefighter, because they have to be ready to roll 24/7. That means jumping out of bed at 3 A.M. to attend to a car on fire or routine BCAS lift-assist of a patient onto a gurney, or reset an apartment building panel after a prankster pulled an alarm station.


Greg Zacharias leads Alliance church singers and musicians in euphonious praise.


Greg Zutter is one of approximately 125 paid-on-call (POC) firefighters in the Fraser Valley Regional District. He had an arm in a sling after a recent bout with cancer and is now recovering and in remission. Apparently, his workmates covered shifts for him and donated their time while he was sick.


"Iíve left my wife and kids standing at soccer fields. Employers let them go. Itís a huge contribution to our community," said Zutter.


The POC guys go out on lots of false alarm calls. Zutter spoke about the time that he and his wife were sitting down to their 10th Anniversary dinner at a local restaurant and he got a call of a structure fire at Cheam Centre.


ďShe grabbed my hands and said, ĎHoney, if you want to be married for the next ten years, stay right there.íĒ


See more photos below.

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