Standing in their shoes


It has been a strange and trying week for all of us, and as time progresses for the foreseeable future it is certain we will deviate even further from our regular routines.

Because the last several days have been so unusual and occupied with the coronavirus, COVID-19 or whatever you want to call it, my original intention this week was to fill this space with some other topic, maybe something to take your mind off the only thing people seem to be talking about these days.

Maybe because my mind is preoccupied with all this coronavirus business though, my thoughts kept wandering back to a call I received last Saturday and a conversation I had this week.

Last Saturday I was sitting at home, doing much of nothing except playing with a bunch of grandkids, when I received a call from Branden Jackman. That is not unusual since Branden is a lieutenant with the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District and public information officer for the Highland County Emergency Operations Center. He is good about calling whenever there is some emergency situation unfolding in the county that he thinks The Times-Gazette might be interested in.

Since we have been reporting on the coronavirus for weeks here at The Times-Gazette, we knew, just like you, that it was going to be here sooner or later. Still, when I answered the phone last weekend and Branden asked if I could meet with him and Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner to discuss the county’s first potential coronavirus case, I was surprised it could already be here.

I figured it would be a somewhat informal meeting. But when I walked into a roomful of concerned officials, it was quickly obvious there was nothing informal about the meeting. This was serious business, and a wide range of local officials wanted to make sure the public was notified as quickly as possible.

Seven officials — Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin, Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District Assistant Chief Bill Strain, Paint Creek Chief Dave Manning, Highland County Emergency Management Agency Director Dave Bushelman, Jackman and Warner, plus a couple good people from the Highland County Press, were at the meeting because the people they serve are important to them.

Most, if not all, of those emergency and health personnel had been up since very early in the morning working to make sure they had everything in order. They were not required to take extra time to call an impromptu press conference, but they thought it was the right thing to do — to protect you, me and the ones we love.

They have continued working long hours this week. They are not the only ones. There are other emergency responders, hospital, health department, nursing home, law enforcement, city and county staff working to make sure we are as protected as we can be from this thing they call the coronavirus.

And their hours will get longer.

They are in their respective positions because they have a passion for helping others. Sure, they receive a paycheck, but I would like to say that from my point of view, we are in good and concerned hands here in Highland County.

And then there is that conversation I had this week. I was told, by a source I trust, that some have not treated the high school student from Greenfield who was tested for the coronavirus and his family, very well. That is more than sad. Even more so when you consider that the test came back negative.

The family has suffered and has likely been afraid. Be kind to them.

Because soon, many of us will be standing in their shoes.

Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected] or 937-402-2522.

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist Gilliland Staff columnist

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