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Emergency responders celebrate Thanksgiving with 'second families'

Posted at 11:05 PM, Nov 24, 2016

CINCINNATI -- For Cincinnati’s first responders, a holiday doesn’t always mean a day off. Between dealing with patients, 911 calls and other emergencies of all stripes, doctors, nurses, EMTs and firefighters around the city Thursday found their own ways to celebrate Thanksgiving.

At the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Thanksgiving staffers could grab a bite of turkey or mashed potatoes from the break room in their spare moments. Dr. William Knight, who works in emergency medicine, said Thanksgiving is often a lower-volume night, meaning he and his staffers see fewer serious injuries and have more time to spend together.

"We have our own celebration," Knight said. "It’s a family away from home, and if I was going to be up all night anyway, I wouldn’t rather be with anyone else."

The firefighters at Firehouse 23 said they cooked together each Thanksgiving, just like they would on an ordinary day. All of the firefighters collectively pay for ingredients each day, according to firefighter Brett Hammons, and then work out who will prepare it.

Thursday’s feast included a leg of lamb and an 11-pound brisket for the team.

FAO Vince Sunderhaus, who has been with the fire department for over 31 years, said he didn’t mind working over the holiday.

"If I can’t be with my first family, I will be with my second family," he said.

Knight said he had not seen any holiday-related injuries Thursday night, but Firehouse 23 had already responded to several calls about burnt turkeys.