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EMS memorial organization stops in Spanish Fork on countrywide trip to remember EMS providers

By Carlene Coombs - | Jul 10, 2024
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Members of the Spanish Fork Fire & EMS Department and the public stand for the national anthem at a memorial for EMS workers on Monday, July 8, 2024.
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Members of the Spanish Fork Fire & EMS Department post the American Flag at a memorial service for EMS providers on Monday, July 8, 2024.
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Megan Haverkamp speaks at a memorial for EMS providers in Spanish Fork on Monday, July 8, 2024.
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Eddie Hales, Spanish Fork Fire & EMS Chief, speaks at a memorial for EMS providers in Spanish Fork on Monday, July 8, 2024.

The National EMS Memorial Service made a stop in Spanish Fork on Monday, where Spanish Fork Fire & EMS hosted a memorial service for 36 first responders who have died in the line of duty across the country.

Spanish Fork was the fifth stop on the national organization’s cross-country trip. The group is making 22 stops in 18 states on its way to Arlington, Virginia, for the National EMS Weekend of Honor.

The organization began doing its “Moving Honors” trip in 2020, said Megan Haverkamp with the National EMS Memorial Service, and this year was its first time stopping in Utah.

Eddie Hales, Spanish Fork Fire & EMS Chief, said it was an “honor” to hold the memorial service on Monday and host the organization.

“As the fire and EMS chief, anytime that we have a line of duty death, whether it’s here locally or whether it’s somewhere else in the country, they’re all our brothers and sisters,” he said. “We share and mourn with every one of those people when we hear about these tragedies.”

The ceremony included bagpipe performances from the West Jordan Fire Department and a moment of silence for the 36 first responders the organization is honoring this year.

Most of the first responders being honored died in 2023, with a handful being New York City first responders who died from illnesses that were a result of responding to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

At the ceremony, there were also note cards available for people to write messages to families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.

Haverkamp said one of the purposes for the “Moving Honors” tour is to let families of fallen first responders know they aren’t forgotten.

“It’s very emotional and it’s amazing,” she said about her experience doing the memorial services. “Getting to be able to tell those families at the Weekend of Honor that people that don’t even know their loved ones are still showing their love and are being there and are very appreciative of what they did, for paying the ultimate sacrifice.”

Also along for the ride is Chief Teddy Bear, a small blue stuffed bear that Haverkamp said they use to tell stories to children who have lost a loved one.

Most stops the group does are at departments or in cities that have lost a first responder, but Spanish Fork was chosen because the city is on the way to its next stop in Grand Junction, Colorado, and because of the generosity of the department to “step up” and host a memorial, Haverkamp said.

Many of the first responders honored by the organization this year were killed in vehicular accidents while responding to a roadside incident, Hales said, adding that roadways are the most dangerous part of their day-to-day duties.

Hales urged drivers to be cautious when they see first responders on the side of the road and slow down and move over.

“Any time our first responders are on the roadway, that is probably the most prevalent area that they are in danger,” he said. “Please, as the public, when you see emergency vehicles on the side of the roadway, please move over, slow down and take caution as our members want to go home to their families.”

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