- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

SALTILLO, Miss. (AP) - For brothers Derrick and Christopher Hindo, one of the biggest rewards of being volunteer firefighters is being able to help people. They’ve been helped themselves by the job, which set them back on the straight path from which they once strayed.

Derrick, 23, has been a volunteer firefighter for nearly 10 years, starting out in a junior program at Empire Hook and Ladder in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He caught on with the Saltillo Fire Department after his family moved here in 2012 to be closer to mother Angela’s parents. Derrick is now the Volunteer Sergeant.

Christopher, 18, followed in Derrick’s footsteps a couple of years ago. He was among the first to join the department’s fledgling junior program. And it came at a good time in Christopher’s life.

During his freshman year at Saltillo High School, he fell in with a group of friends who were headed nowhere fast. He became uncharacteristically rebellious, and his grades plummeted.

“I was hanging out with the wrong people,” Christopher said. “A couple of months after hanging out with this group of friends, I was like, this ain’t me.”

It was a phase of life with which Derrick was quite familiar. He dropped out of school in 10th grade.

“I told him he was messing up, plain and simple,” Derrick said. “There was one kid that he was hanging out with, and I didn’t like him. I told him I didn’t like him and that he needed to stay away from him. That was his friend and his decision, and he pulled out of it.”

On call

Nowadays, if Derrick and Christopher are out at all hours of the night, it’s because they’re responding to a call. Angela will hear them leave the house at 2 a.m. and worry until she gets a text from them or they walk back through the door.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be OK with it,” she said with a laugh. “You don’t sleep sound when you know that they just went out on a call and it’s late and you wait for that phone call.”

Her sons thrive on the adrenaline rush of responding to a call, whether it’s a fire or a car accident. Each call is a chance to help someone.

“That’s pretty much what it is, is helping people,” Derrick said. “And knowing you went out and did your best that you could, and they’re either sitting there smiling, or they will be smiling soon. I think that’s what we all do it for.”

It was that desire of Derrick’s to help others that attracted Christopher to the job.

“Seeing him help somebody really encouraged me to do better and try to help anybody that was in need,” Christopher said. “Rushing to a call, your adrenaline’s pumping, not knowing what you have. You show up on scene, and all you can do is what your instincts tell you, what the training tells you.”

Angela, a Shannon native, views her sons as examples of what young people can do when they make the right choices.

“Instead of them going out and getting in trouble, the communities do offer programs like this,” she said. “They can volunteer at nursing homes, they can help out at churches. There’s so much more than what we’re seeing with most of the kids today - the drugs, the running (around), and not going to school.”

Derrick and Christopher have three other siblings, all girls. Given how busy they are these days, they don’t have much time for friends. But they have each other, and they’ve grown closer over their shared passion for being firefighters and for helping others.

“He’s always been there to help me, he’s always had my back,” Christopher said. “It’s brought us closer together, and we have that connection to where I can tell when he’s not feeling right, and vice versa.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com


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