- - Thursday, February 9, 2023

There is a saying that when something bad happens, people run from it, but police officers, firefighters and other first responders run toward it. “Called to Serve: The Inspiring, Untold Stories of America’s First Responders” explains why.

“Called to Serve,” written by my good friend Dava Guerin and authors Mike Hardwick and Sam Royer, is a “must-read for every American,” writes Fox News National Security correspondent Jennifer Griffin in her foreword to the book.

“In this important book, you will be moved by the deeply personal stories about first responders such as John (Woody) Woodall, as well as those who risk their lives for our health and safety and live by the oath they take to ‘serve and protect,’” she writes.

Country singer-songwriter John Rich wrote in a second foreword to the book: “In the American spirit, there lives a unique boldness of character and sense of duty when it comes to serving others. Among us, there are those chosen few who rise head and shoulders above the rest by dedicating their lives to doing the most dangerous and often most thankless jobs that carry with them the very real risk of life and death.”

“Called to Serve” profiles 16 dedicated and brave police officers, firefighters and emergency medical professionals who risk their lives every day. The book describes what motivates the first responders, how they operate and details their great triumphs and tragedies.

The book reveals what it takes to respond to immediate life-and-death situations and the toll it takes on them. We see cops respond to emergencies in high-crime neighborhoods, as well as responders pulling bodies from the ruin at ground zero after 9/11. There are also lighter moments in the book, such as the story of one first responder who performs as an Elvis impersonator to raise money for fallen firefighters.

The authors of “Called to Serve” say they will donate 10% of the book sales to the Gary Sinise Foundation. Mr. Hardwick, one of the co-authors, is the founder, chairman and CEO of Churchill Mortgage Corp. Mr. Royer is national director of Heroes First Home Loans, which helps provide affordable mortgage financing for active and retired military members, police, firefighters, health care workers, educators, and other civil servants.

Ms. Guerin is the author and co-author of seven books, including two she co-wrote with Kevin Ferris, “Vets and Pets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals That Help Them Heal,” and “Unbreakable Bonds: The Mighty Moms and Wounded Warriors of Walter Reed.” (I reviewed both books favorably here.) In addition to being a wounded veteran and veterans advocate, Ms. Guerin is also a marketing communications consultant and owner of a public relations firm.
I contacted Ms. Guerin and asked her why she and her co-authors wrote “Called to Serve.”

“I and my co-authors, knowing so many law enforcement people especially, thought ‘Call to Serve’ would be a way of understanding what these people go through,” Ms. Guerin replied. “Why do they want to do these jobs, and why they chose to serve, and describe what their lives are truly like, and how they grew up. To really get into their hearts and souls.”

Why do you think they should be celebrated?

“Why do they choose to go to work every day, knowing they might not make it home that night, or contract a disease or get burned in a fire? They don’t ask for any attention, and they don’t make much money,” Ms. Guerin said. “They don’t need a lot of outward attention because they dedicate their lives to helping others and they don’t ask for anything in return. First responders are people who don’t really get the accolades they should, yet what would we do if we fell or had an accident, called 911, and no one came? It is disheartening for them to put on a uniform, and some people try to kill them, and they spit on them, and degrade them.”

How did you and your co-authors select the 16 people to profile in the book?

“Essentially, there were a couple of people I knew, and I researched it to see who won firefighters awards and so on. I talked to them first, and I found they were super special. Amy Royer, an EMS, as you know from the book, is my co-author Sam Royer’s sister, and she, Sam and myself found all of the people we write about in the book. I could have written 20 more stories easily,” she said.

• Paul Davis’ On Crime column covers true crime, crime fiction and thrillers.

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Called To Serve: The Inspiring, Untold Stories of America’s First Responders
Mike Hardwick, Dava Guerin and Sam Royer
Skyhorse Publishing, $26.99, 232 pages.

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