Local Firefighters Answer Call Half a World Away

Whether here at home or half a world away, they're ready to answer the call.

"Firemen are firemen," said Deputy Chief Jeff Miller, who works for the Mesquite Fire Department. "We just kind of grab our gear and jump on."

Miller and a group of Mesquite firefighters recently returned from Israel, where they were called to help battle fires that have erupted across the Middle Eastern country.

They're members of an organization called the Emergency Volunteers Project, which sends American first responders to Israel in times of need.

One of those times came the morning after Thanksgiving. Miller said his phone started ringing at about 5 a.m.

"They said 'we're gonna need a group of guys to go,'" said Miller. "'And be ready to go this afternoon.' So that was a bit of a challenge."

The next day, they were on a flight to Israel with about 40 other firefighters from across the country.

Captain Jason Eddy was also on that flight. Both he and Miller admit it was a  different experience having to put on bulletproof vests and watch for incoming rockets as they battled fires -- but at the same time, they say they felt right at home responding to calls.

"The brotherhood that we have here, the job we do here -- it's neat to see that once we get over there, it's the same thing," said Eddy.

Miller said the reception they got from their Israeli counterparts made the impromptu trip well worth it.

"When we come to help and tell them we love you and we're here to help -- you know, we're not looking for anything in return. It really is a big morale boost to the whole country," said Miller. "They make a big deal about it."

This is the group's second trip to Israel. In 2014, they were brought in to help rescue crews in the Gaza Strip.

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