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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When tragedy strikes in Philadelphia, first responders are immediately called to the scene. The second to respond — the Second Alarmers.
“We will provide rest and rehab which is food, drink, supplies,” said Chief Gregory Masi, a retired Philadelphia police officer who runs this 100 percent volunteer organization.
The Second Alarmers has a station of its own, funded by donations from police and firefighters. It has 38 active members of all skill sets.
Chief Masi said many actually live there, spending time there on their days off from work. “They stay here around the clock.”
From there they can self-dispatch to any emergency or event, like the New Year’s Day parade. When police officer Andy Chan was recently hurt, Second Alarmers were there at the hospital.
They also respond to the major emergencies. In late December, “We had an extra alarm fire, a multiple alarm fire, up in the Northeast, and we were there for almost six hours,” Chief Masi said.
The time they spend on scene can range from an hour to even days. In the wake of 2015’s Amtrak train derailment, “We were there for three days,” Chief Masi said, “providing not just food and nourishment, but we also carry a lot of wide-area lighting, lighting that we can light up areas to make it seem safe.”
If crews need it, the Second Alarmers have it. Volunteer Barry Stith showed us just a little of what they have.
“The hot chocolate, the coffee,” as well as clothing, food and first aid.
“We also provide hand warmers, dry gloves, dry socks,” Chief Masi said.
Year-round, they provide water. Last year it was 38,000 bottles.
“If we don’t keep them hydrated, there’s a potential they are going to have heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” Chief Masi said.
You can’t mention Second Alarmers without their secret weapon: their bright green homemade “Bug Juice.”
“A lot of people say it refuels the body,” Barry Stith said.
This 3 Cheers goes to the Second Alarmers Association for helping the people who help us.