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Employees Of The Month: Firefighters Man Store Register After Sick Clerk Calls 911

Firefighters wear many hats besides their official one. And one recent call for assistance shows how seriously some Kent County, Michigan firefighters take their “customer service” role in the community.

On January 7th, Duncan Elliott, a clerk at the J&H Family Store, wasn’t feeling well. He called his boss to ask for another employee to come and take over the store. And then he called 911 for medical assistance.

Alto-Bowne Township Fire Department Deputy Chief Andy Vanderziel, Capt. Chris Wieland, firefighter-EMT Jake Lotterman, and firefighter Jim Hamann answered the call. Within minutes, they were at the store.

“We took care of our patient. The ambulance crew came. We got them on the stretcher. He went into the hospital,” Vanderziel said.

But there was still an issue. The employee stepping in for Elliot hadn’t arrived yet. Customers were waiting to purchase items and buy gas—but no one was there to help them. That’s when Hamann and Lotterman said they say Wieland get behind the register.

“Me and Jim got the guy to the ambulance. I came back in and Chris was checking people out,” Lotterman said.

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Screenshot via WoodTV8

“They weren’t pushy and upset. We weren’t doing anything. They literally just wanted to get some snacks and get on the road. So I felt bad and thought we could help them out,” Wieland said.

“Getting the drawer open was a little tricky,” he explained. “I kept hitting, pushing a button and it kept saying something: ‘error.’ And I hit cancel and I could finally find the cash register button.”

Elliot, the sick clerk who has since recovered, said he saw Wieland take over the store when he shown surveillance video the next day. He was grateful for all the fire crew had done to help him out and keep the store running.

“They were really cool,” Elliot said. “They didn’t need to do that.”

Patricia Grisafi

Written by Patricia Grisafi