By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The wail of police, fire and other sirens, as well as the blaring of about three dozen vehicle horns, could be heard across southeast Atmore Sunday evening, March 29, as locals came together to salute the healthcare workers at Atmore Community Hospital.
Emergency vehicles with blue and red lights flashing, as well as private vehicles with their lights on and emergency flashers blinking, filled the hospital’s southern parking spaces. Other vehicles crammed into the parking lot of the primary care facility and doctors’ offices across the street from ACH or parked in the spaces directly in front of the hospital entrances.
The public response, while not overwhelming, was impressive, when one considered that the show of appreciation was not organized until 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
“I saw on (an area television station) that they were doing this down in Mobile,” said Emergency Services Chaplain Tom Tschida. “I thought that we owe our healthcare workers the same thing, so with an hour and a half before 7 (p.m.), we put it on Facebook and called all the first responders to see what we could get done.”
ACH’s Director of Nurses and Interim Administrator Suzanne McGill said she knew nothing about the planned gathering until she stumbled upon it while taking a break from a home improvement project.
“I didn’t even know anything about it,” McGill said. “My husband (Mark) and I had been painting our kitchen, and I sat down on the swing for a minute. I thought, ‘let me just glance through Facebook.’ I saw it, and said, ‘Oh, my word.’ This was at 6. I said, ‘Mark, think I need to go.’ This truly means a lot.”
More than two dozen ACH employees gathered at the hospital’s emergency entrance to accept the salute. Many waved at those providing the salute, and a small group began videotaping it with their phones.
“Thank you so much; it’s great,” yelled the group in unison. “This is the neatest thing.”
At the end of the brief event, all the public safety vehicles and most of the others filed through the hospital parking lot, waving as they passed the gathering of ACH employees.