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Children are taught to try to escape if their house catches fire, with the more responsible and attentive parents among us coming up with alternative ways out and a nearby meeting place for a family headcount.

Every public school student has likely participated in fire drills designed to vacate the building quickly and orderly.

As they become teenagers and then young adults, some people decide that they should travel toward smoke and flames instead of the other way around, even going so far as to enter burning structures in an effort to save lives and property. These brave men and women are firefighters, also known as first responders.

Oct. 28, was National First Responders Day, set aside each year to honor firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and other Americans who render assistance when and where it's needed.

Congress designated Oct. 28 as National First Responders Day in 2017. The resolution was supported by the family of Sean Collier, a police officer ambushed and slain during events related to the fatal 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Information found online points to a 1966 federal study called Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society, which named accidental injuries as the "leading cause of death in the first half of life's span."

The report showed that more Americans died in traffic accidents in 1965 than were killed in the Korean War, that seriously wounded citizens would fare better in a war zone than on the average U.S. city street.

The report also identified a lack of regulation or standards for ambulance operations or provider training.

Several recommendations were made for both managing and preventing accidental injuries, including the standardization of emergency training for "rescue squad personnel, policemen, firemen and ambulance attendants." That led to the first nationally recognized curriculum for EMTs.

Today, professional training can take anywhere from one to three years, with candidates learning life support techniques, including CPR, tourniquet use and treatment of wounds.

Paramedics deliver more advanced care and therefore require additional education and training. There's much to learn.

Whether they are paid for sharing their skill sets or volunteer out of the kindness of their hearts or sense of duty to others, first responders have something in common -- we owe them a debt of gratitude.

-- Cumberland (Md.) Times-News

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