ANDERSON — They often put in long hours on a volunteer basis with many not even knowing what they do, Anderson Police Chief Larry Crenshaw said.
That's why the Anderson Police Department held a picnic of appreciation for members of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency and their families Saturday afternoon at Shadyside Park.
It was the first event of its kind for the EMA members and their families, he said.
Crenshaw said EMA has "assisted (Anderson police) in several things over the years," such as diverting traffic from large accidents and guarding perimeters.
The volunteers, he added, are well-trained, respond quickly and help keep officers safe as they work.
Crenshaw used former EMA director C.R. Brown, who passed away in November, as an example of the type of volunteers the agency sees. He worked with Brown for years and said he was a "visionary-type guy" who was very active and had a good heart.
"(EMA) is a deserving entity not recognized a lot," Crenshaw said, adding the agency collaborates well with the Anderson Police Department, the Madison County Sheriff's Department and other local law enforcement agencies, sometimes working with more than one at a time.
"Basically, they do anything we ask them to do," he said. "They're amazing."
Madison County EMA Executive Director Tom Ecker said it was a nice afternoon with the Anderson Police Department and "dedicated, self-motivated" volunteers he's proud of.
There are 110 volunteers in five divisions with EMA responding to not only accidents and fires, but bad weather.
Ecker said the agency maintains an emergency operating service during major incidents, sets up shelters in disasters and poor weather conditions, has a mobile command unit, a hazardous materials truck and storm spotters.
It's made up of "unpaid professionals" who undergo considerable training and save taxpayers money by relieving paid officers from scene security, he said.
"They go out in very bad weather, and are out long periods of time," he said. "There's not a lot of people willing to do that."
And the reason they volunteer, he said, is for "the same reason anyone volunteers for a church or school or any other organization: as a way to give back to the community."
Like Dani Palmer on Facebook and follow her @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.