Who You Gonna Call?
Read the text and look at the questions that follow it. In this reading comprehension, the questions are multiple choice.
Asotin County in Washington State is a beautiful place. Tucked into the south-eastern corner of this western state, the name means "place of eels" in the local Indian language and refers to the huge quantity of eels that are found in the county's numerous rivers and other waterways.
Asotin is also the home of the A-Team, four members of the local Sheriff's department who are involved in rescue and emergency services provision in the county. While their colleagues busy themselves with illegal hunting and speeding motorists, Kevin Pate, Raul Hernandez, Bryan Grant and Lucy Pigalle have, for some seven years, been at the sharp end of incidents as varied as landslides, flash floods, highway pile ups and even a bear that ran amok in the town of Anatone.
"We are the guys they call when things go badly wrong in the county," explains Bryan Grant, a handsome, rugged Oregonian who, at 31, is the "baby" of the A-Team. "We used to be called the "Asotin Alert Team" which became the 'AA Team' but we changed it because we didn't want to be thought of as alcoholics!"
Forces of Nature
I asked the four members of the A-Team, gathered for this interview in the Sheriff's Office canteen, what caused them most problems. Was it drunken drivers or the wildlife this region of Washington State is famous for?
"I would say it was undoubtedly Mother Nature," says Raul Hernandez. "Just last week, we rescued a guy out of his car that had been swept away by a flash flood on the George Creek. His car was sinking fast but we managed to get the door open and the driver was able to swim to the shore. Unfortunately, he was driving with his Labrador dog and we couldn't save the dog in time."
Kevin Pate, 48 years old and the senior member of the rescue crew, agrees. "We get some extreme weather in this part of the state. We've had everything from earthquakes to tornadoes."
Forest fires are also a big killer. Last summer, a large stretch of the Umatilla National Forest, which is situated in the west of the county, went up in smoke. Kevin continues. "The firefighters succeeded in controlling the blaze and we were involved in rescue missions. A lot of picnickers and the like got caught up in the fire and many of them couldn't get out as they were more or less surrounded by towering flames in a gusting wind."
Part of the Job
Lucy Pigalle, 36, recalls the Umatilla fires. "Many people are just convinced that these things won't reach out and touch them. Until it's too late, that is. This one family of four was trapped in a picnic area with a wall of fire surrounding them. They couldn't get out at all. We managed to beat a path into the area and were able to get them out with about five minutes to spare. It was terrifying. Tragically, that day, four out-of-state visitors perished in the Umatilla National Forest."
Bryan Grant sums up the thoughts of the rest of the group when he states that, "you get to see tragedy and death as part of the job. You almost become desensitized to it. You can't save everybody. You just have to remember all the people you managed to save!"
I left Asotin with a reassuring feeling that my safety, should tragedy strike, would be in the hands of these competent, brave individuals who would combat hell and high water to save me.
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