for first responders
Story and Photos by Duane Good
first responders are prayed for, with one of the Halifax
Fire Department engines as a backdrop.
words of thanks for all they do, and a commendation for the
example they set, first responders received a prayer of
blessing at a ceremony held in the Halifax area Aug. 22.
ambulance and police and military personnel were praised
for following the example Jesus set – they ‘‘go about doing
good,’’ as part of the prayer offered to them as they stood
in front of a Halifax Fire Department engine while others
laid hands on them to pray.
the Youth Center of Halifax United Methodist Church, the
ceremony of blessing was the first in what is being planned
as an annual event for first responders in northern Dauphin
While most of the emergency personnel in attendance
Aug. 22 were from the Halifax region, the intent is to have many
more people on hand in 2016, according to organizer Chuck Matter.
‘‘We’re opening it up next year to all of upper
Dauphin County – from Peters’ Mountain to Pillow and from the
Susquehanna River to the county line,’’ he said.
First responders do a great job working together and
deserve more recognition than they often receive, said Randy
Bistline, the event’s keynote speaker.
‘‘It's an unsung thing; they don’t get enough credit.
But it is God who gives you the credit,’’ Bistline, a Duncannon
A veteran police officer who has served in the
military and with departments in Millersburg and at the State
Capitol, Bistline said there was a time in his life when ‘‘God
wasn’t always there
‘‘Let me rephrase that – I wasn’t always there for
God. I didn’t let Him there,’’ he added.
Saying he believes the United States is going in the
wrong direction because people haven't allowed God to work in their
lives, Bistline said that in his career, he has ‘‘seen ugly things
that people do to other people. With God in people’s lives, those
things wouldn't happen.’’
After Bistline’s presentation, Matter added, ‘‘Christ
is the ultimate rescuer.’’
The audience also heard from Lynn Hess, an area
native now retired from the Pennsylvania State Police after more
than 30 years' service.
‘‘In all the places I worked across the state, the
first responders from upper Dauphin County were the best I worked
with,’’ he said. ‘‘Everyone throws in together and helps each other
out. That's especially impressive, considering most of the first
responders in this area are volunteers.’’
While saying he never heard God audibly call him to
be a state trooper, Hess noted that ‘‘every crossroad in my life’’
pointed him in that direction.
There were times, he added, when he wondered if he
was making any positive difference in others' lives, especially when
he would speak with young people who’d run afoul of the law and
asked them what they thought their future would hold.
‘‘Around 2008 I was at a football game, and a lady
came up to me and asked if I remembered her,’’ he said. ‘‘She told
me hermaiden name and said that 15 years before, she had been in a
dysfunctional family situation and had run away from home.
‘‘I always thought I annoyed kids with that speech
I’d give them, but she thanked me for it and said it helped her turn
her life around,’’ said Hess.
Before the prayer, Matter said it was important also
to say thanks to the spouses and children of first responders.
‘‘They have to pick up the slack when we have to make
our runs and attend the trainings,’’ he said. ‘‘Without them
stepping up and doing what they do, we couldn’t be there for the
The prayer of blessing was offered by Rick Crone,
chaplain of the Tribe of David, a local chapter of the Christian
Motorcyclists Association. Crone related how a man with medical
training saved his father’s life after a home accident, so he always
has had tremendous respect for people in that field.
The chapter meets the second Saturday of the month
(except December) from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Ranch House Restaurant
near Duncannon, and welcomes anyone who wants to com and see what it
is about, said Rick Willier, the Tribe’s vice president.