Many of us fear the bad things that might happen in life, a crime against us, an auto crash, a disaster at our home, and understandably so. Things can sometimes go from great to terrible in a flash, and although it’s advisable not to harbor a fatalistic attitude, somewhere in the back of our mind lurks that fear of something bad waiting to pounce on our otherwise happy life.
When those bad times come, we call on any number of local public safety heroes who come to our rescue. We all probably take them for granted much of the time, but the fact that we know they are there fosters a sense of security, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to folks like our law enforcement officers, Emergency Medical Service personnel, and firefighters, among others.
But what happens when those very people are the ones who need the help? After all, these heroes who may seem superhuman at times, are just like the rest of us. When they have adversity, they need the help of their own public safety brothers and sisters.
September 11th house fire
Cameron (Cam) and Katie Reese are two of those who often come to the aid of others, but on September 11, 2023, at about 8:00 p.m., they were the ones who needed help. A fire at their Sandlewood Subdivision home was a jolt of reality that even the rescuers sometimes need rescuing.
Cam is a Georgia State Patrol (GSP) trooper assigned to the Nighthawks DUI Task Force, and Katie is a detective with the Statesboro Police Department (SPD). Cameron is also a volunteer Bulloch County firefighter, but has a history with the local police department, city fire department, and Bulloch County EMS as a first responder.
With so many local connections to public safety, the Reeses literally had their friends and coworkers responding to assist them in their time of need. Katie was at work with SPD, and Cam wasn’t at home, but was in his truck when the call about the fire went out over his emergency radio. He confirmed with dispatch that he had heard the address correctly, then headed toward his home.
A phone call from his neighbor while he was on the way confirmed the news. That neighbor, Joseph Mathews, called 911 about the fire, and also saved the couple’s three dogs, which were in the residence. All three pets were okay, but one was a bit singed. “We can’t thank Joseph enough for saving our dogs,” Cam said. “Things would have been different if he had not been there that night.”
The immediate response from fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel took care of the most pressing issue, putting out the fire, but the assistance the couple has had since that time is what is most heart-warming for them.
Grateful to the Public Safety community and strangers who came to their aid
“The support we have received since the fire is eye-opening,” stated Katie. “The number of people who have helped has been fantastic.” Cam mentioned that not only his local GSP co-workers, but those higher up, from the Colonel of the State Patrol down, have checked in on him. “I even had a call from the Governor’s office, making sure we were okay,” said Cam.
A co-worker of Cam’s started a Go Fund Me account to help with more immediate needs until insurance could pay. “He didn’t ask, he just said I’m doing this,” said Cam.
“One of the biggest challenges is going to get something and then realizing it isn’t there anymore,” said Katie. “So many everyday items we take for granted suddenly become something we have to replace, and the Go Fund Me support has been a great help with that.”
The couple was able to move into a supporter’s pond-house for a couple of weeks, until they could find a rental house, and have since bought a new house and hope to move in before the end of the year.
Both Katie and Cam expressed their appreciation to all the agencies and people who have helped them during this difficult time.
New perspective of their jobs
“It is humbling to know that we have that many people who care about us,” said Katie. The couple also agrees that having been on the receiving side of public safety gives them a new perspective on what they do for a living.
“I think all of us do our jobs knowing we are helping people, but we don’t always realize the profound impact we actually have on people,” said Cam. “We now know that first-hand.”
The Reese’s story has a happy ending, even after the adversity of the fire. They and their dogs are safe, material possessions are being replaced, and they may even get to spend Christmas in their new home.
They will continue to be two of the superheroes of our local public safety community, but they have a whole new appreciation for their fellow superheroes. The people who keep us all safe should never be taken for granted.
The sacrifice of people in each of our local public safety organizations deserve our abiding gratitude, and Katie and Cam know that now, more than ever.