First responders from all over Vermont paid tribute to a veteran of the fire and rescue service Saturday. Dale Long was a supervisor at Bennington Rescue. He died on Monday when the ambulance he was driving ran off Route 9 and hit a tree. His loss had a profound effect on his fellow rescuers.
A color guard and Dale Long's closest friends and associates carried his casket and placed it in one of his ambulances. Shortly, the same vehicle that had carried scores of accident victims to the hospital would take Bennington Rescue's fallen hero for his last ride, past a long line of rescue units from as far away as Newport and from New York and New Hampshire."Obviously, always when there's a loss of life in public safety it's a deep, deep tragedy," said Andrew Palmeri, Bennington Rescue's operations manager.
A procession along Route 7 took the first responders 25 miles from Manchester toward Bennington -- a route of spectacular beauty -- toward a memorial ceremony his final resting place.
Long saved many lives over a 25-year career that culminated for him as a paramedic supervisor, a highly trained medical responder. In 1998 he was named Vermont EMS Advanced Rescuer of the Year.
Arlene Law of the South West Medical Center and who worked closely with Long, said, "Dale was very vigilant, Dale was always watching out for others. Dale frequently told people, I've got your back. We've all heard it. I know he was always nearby when there was a crisis. He was a protector of all his crews."
Those who work in fire, rescue and police units consider themselves as all one family. And this family already misses an important member. "In the long run, I'm sure that he will always be remembered here. And he'll never be forgotten either, by the members of the this organization or the community at large," Palmeri said.
Bennington Rescue says it's still waiting for the results of an investigation into the exactly what caused the fatal crash. But that's for later. For now, it was time to pay respects to Dale Long, who lost his live in the line of duty.
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