[Not] Home for the Holidays 5

We salute the sacrifices of our hometown heroes during the holiday season

As we turn our calendars to the holidays, our thoughts turn to hearth and home. While most of us are able to press pause to gather with our families and friends, the first responders in our community don’t get to close the office and head home for a break. No matter what the day or hour, our police and fire departments are on the job, ready to protect and serve the citizens of West Chester and Liberty Township. We give thanks for our hometown heroes—the dedicated women and men who gear up and show up, even during the holidays.

Officer Adam Roth, West Chester Police Department

West Chester Police Officer Adam Roth will be working this holiday season. He has put in 11 years with the department, and since June he is partnered with the newest canine on the force, Rico. Roth and his family don’t let busy work schedules dampen their holidays—they simply put the celebrations on hold.

“We make adjustments to the holiday routines and traditions to make time for it when we can,” Roth says. “My family understands that there are sacrifices, but we will make it up at some point.”

Roth recognizes that the holidays may trigger sadness for some.

“For a lot of people who have lost loved ones, the holidays make it harder and bring some of that emotion to the surface,” he explains. “We seem to get more calls for help with mental health issues around the holidays.”

Roth and Rico will be on call to help this season.

Lieutenant Scott Schmits, Liberty Township Fire Department

Lieutenant Scott Schmits will be having his Thanksgiving meal at Fire Station 112 this year, since he’ll be on duty with the Liberty Township Fire Department.

Stuffing is his second favorite Thanksgiving tradition, bested by an extended family gathering, complete with seeing his young daughter play with her cousins. This holiday, the firefighters will prepare a small meal and invite their immediate families.

“We could get interrupted at any minute,” he says. “We may not even be able to do it, but we’ll at least try. It’s better than being apart.”

Schmits notes that the holidays present specific health and fire risks.

“On the holidays, we get the typical calls for chest pain and shortness of breath, mostly due to stress. I’ve been on multiple Thanksgiving and Christmas fires, usually from cooking,” he explains.

Schmits will be on the ready, in case someone’s holiday takes a turn for the worse.

Officer Nick Dunlevy of West Chester Police Department

After 14 years with the West Chester Police Department, the last five on third shift, Officer Nick Dunlevy knows what it’s like to work on the holidays.

“Our business doesn’t close,” Dunlevy says. “Unfortunately, there’s always crime and emergencies.”

“What’s great about West Chester is how the community takes care of us,” he adds. “There’s always food stacked up around the holidays…cookies, sliced turkey, ham, brownies. This community is really nice.”

As the schedule allows, the third shift crews recognize holidays with a “family dinner” on a break. For third shift, that’s in the middle of the night.

Dunlevy will be home for the holidays this year. As the newly assigned School Resource Officer at Lakota’s Union Elementary, Dunlevy hopes his presence at school helps students and staff feel safe and secure.

“This is my community now,” he says with a wide smile. “I love being here.”