The Farm Bleat: If not you, who?

A thank you to emergency responders.

Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer
Tim Middagh / The Globe<br/>
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A friend of mine is an ER nurse in southern Minnesota. I don’t know how she can do it — seeing crash victims rushed in for care, seeing people in pain … hearing people in pain.

I couldn’t do what she does, and I’ve often told her so. I’d probably faint at the sight of blood or lose my lunch, not to mention the nightmares that would prevent me from getting a decent night’s sleep.

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Whatever she has within her isn’t within me, and I thank God for the gifts she has been given. We need people like her — more people like her in all facets of emergency services.

The Worthington Fire Department now has a banner displayed outside the fire hall, searching for new recruits to serve the community. They are not alone. Small towns across Nobles County — even across southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa — are finding it more and more challenging to recruit volunteers for fire and rescue departments, as well as ambulance services.

As I sat before my computer screen late Monday afternoon, hearing and seeing not one, but two Nobles County Sheriff’s deputies speed past my home with lights flashing and sirens blaring, my mind raced about their calls. Car crash? Pedestrian hit?


It could have been any number of emergencies.

This time, it was a drowning in Lake Okabena.

It’s a call most people would not want to answer, but one emergency responders willingly accept. We are so grateful for their efforts, because if they didn’t step up to do the job, who would?

For incidents recorded the evening of Feb. 3 through the early morning of Feb. 7.
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As journalists, we too are expected to respond — to report from the scene what is seen, what is heard, what is happening.

I will never forget the first time an editor sent me out to take pictures at a crash scene at the intersection of two gravel roads in Redwood County. My career to that point had focused on agricultural reporting, but I was in a new job working for a community newspaper, and covering tragedies is what community newspapers do.


Freedom of the press? The public’s right to know? I’m not sure I have a great answer, but I’d say it’s to present the facts — to get the information out and debunk the rumor mill.

If we write about a child getting hit by a car, wouldn’t you want to know where it happened and the extent of the child’s injuries? Perhaps it’s a neighborhood where children are frequently present. Wouldn’t you drive slower and be on the lookout if you took that street on your route to work?


With a vehicle crash, the public expects to know where it happened, how it happened and who was involved. When the facts aren’t available, any number of rumors begin to spread and morph.

As reporters, we seek our information from law enforcement leaders and fire chiefs — the people who have the facts — and we don’t report anything without confirmation.

We may not get the facts out as soon as we’d like, but whether it’s a fatal crash like we had near St. Kilian last week, or a drowning reported on Monday afternoon, we know there are families in our community who are grieving, and emergency responders who answered the call, responded to the scene, witnessed and heard all of the things I’d never want to see or hear, and perhaps went home afterwards to give their family members an extra hug.

I know I needed a Chloe hug on Monday. I needed one last week too. My little pooch is pretty good at giving hugs.

So thank you, emergency responders, for all that you see and hear and do — over and over again — to help us all when tragedy strikes.

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Opinion by Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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