Celebrating Heroes

Florida First Responders Heroically Lay it All Out for Ailing Couple

Having been one myself, with a degree of certainty and experience I can answer the question: Are first responders more intuitive or more good-natured? It is a coupling of both. And a squad of Pasco County, Florida firefighters took the combined traits to a married couple experiencing medical duress as well as HOA looming gloom. It all started on July 7, 2018 when the Pasco County Fire Rescue department received the 9-1-1 call regarding a male purportedly suffering a “massive heart attack.” The gentleman’s wife, Melissa Ann Work, enduring health woes and a pending bone marrow transplant scheduled next month, called it in and requested emergency assistance. She had no idea how much help was in store. She also had no idea that her 9-1-1 call effectively saved her husband’s life.

In her own words, Mrs. Work explains, “Before my husband had his massive heart attack, he was working on the sod with my amazing brother-in-law. That is what triggered and set it off. We had just received our last 4 palettes and were going to finish it. It’s been my husband’s biggest stress as our HOA date to fine us a huge amount was getting closer.” Who among us residing in an HOA-governed community has not sweat a rule, regulation, or violation letter from time to time? I have, and know the pressure involved as a homeowner juggling many pins.

Mrs. Work continued: “While he was having his heart attack, literally in and out of consciousness, he kept begging me to figure out the sod and have it put down because he didn’t want it to go to waste and die. It’s ALL he kept asking about literally during a massive heart attack. LOL. I calmed him and kept saying ‘Jesus will help us. It’s ok. Jesus will figure this out babe.'” Lord knows, Jesus doesn’t miss a beat. And this beat already had saviors en route under a scorching sun.

As she boarded the Pasco County ambulance to accompany her husband Gene, Mrs. Work’s brother-in-law remained with the home/property and their toddler-age niece. Worried about the fast-approaching HOA deadline and palleted tons of sod left to dry and die, Gene’s brother decided to singlehandedly continue the sod-laying project. Albeit well-intentioned, doing so while also caring for a two-year-old child didn’t necessarily make the project easily fall into place.

Nevertheless, baking under the intense sunrays that day, Gene’s brother was able to uproot all the old grass and start laying down the new sod squares…when he heard the distinct attention-getting rumble of diesel engines approaching from behind.

Then Came the Intuitive Cavalry

Gene’s brother looked up to see a Pasco County Fire engine and an ambulance, from which a total of seven PCFR firefighters/paramedics emptied the rigs and gaggled on the street in front of the Works’ home. As Mrs. Work described, “He turned around and saw the fire truck and ambulance had come back. He was confused and thought they were coming to check on him.” Technically, that was an accurate assessment, only not primarily medical-related. It was purely botanical assistance and unadulterated community service!

(Credit: Facebook/Melissa Ann Work)

After they disembarked, all seven PCFR first responders gloved-up for a sod-laying venture, and dug in to put the seeded pieces together while Gene was at the hospital recovering from cardiology care.

“[T]hey came back because they knew Gene was in serious trouble and they wanted to lay the new sod so it didn’t die. They knew he wouldn’t be able to do any work for weeks so they came back. They came back!!! They saved his life, dropped him off and then cared enough to save our GRASS!!” And that exemplifies the Q&A we used to intro this article: intuition and an attitude of public service. Not only treating citizens for medical care or other fire-related responsibilities but to see a need and fill that need.

Pasco County, Florida first responders from Station #10 transported a heart attack patient and returned to complete a sod-laying project they knew the patient would not be able to complete in due time and before all the grass perished under intense temperatures. (Credit: Facebook/Melissa Ann Work)

Like cops performing a non-exigent civil duty who often must leave hastily in response to an emergency and then return to finish the first job, firefighters exercise the same protocol. And they maintain policies while resolving various loose ends in the meantime. All without a solicitous word.

To paraphrase Mrs. Work’s applicable punctuation colorizing this story of stewardship, the fire/rescue crew had no idea of the pending HOA bind and potentially stiff fines. They were unaware that Gene Work pawned his favorite firearm to buy the sod. They also had no clue that she was preparing for a bone-marrow transplant at our local cancer hospital.

In her own words, Mrs. Work iterated: “They didn’t know all we have been through as a little family. They simply saw someone in need, something in need and did this for us. This wasn’t in their job description. We have no words. Just sobbing [emphasis added].” And that’s what it is all about folks.

I corresponded with Mrs. Work; she sought to ensure this particular crew of first responders is recognized accordingly. Via research, she now has the specific fire house address and contact number to ensure this batch of heroes reap the seeds they’ve sown on behalf of the Works.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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