FORT CALHOUN, Ne (KMTV) — Ponca Hills volunteer firefighter of 50 years, Dennis Bender passed on Wednesday after responding to three brush fires. Bender collapsed from a medical emergency after he administered medical and rehab care on scene to those operating on the fire.
Bender's family said he will be missed and his shoes will be impossible to fill because of how much of himself he gave to the community.
"You don’t see that many people giving this kind of commitment and time. I hated the fire department the first 15 years of my life because they stole my father away from me all the time. If a siren went off, my dad left. It took me a long time to understand they needed him," George Bender, son of Dennis Bender said.
George said that his father was selfless and did everything to better those around him.
"He would do whatever it took so you could succeed. He would not let you fail, not the first chance, not the second chance. He’d give you the third or the fourth or the fifth it’s because it matters. If anyone’s going to take something away it’s we need more people who are going to stand up and serve the community," George Bender said.
Bender's fellow firefighters say his legacy will live on, specifically through the department's newest additions.
"Dennis was instrumental in their training and passing along his many years of knowledge and experience. His vast knowledge of firefighting and paramedic medicine will never be replaced but the personnel he mentored will carry his legacy for years to come," said Mike Pallas, President of the Ponca Hills Volunteer Fire Department.
Bender began his service as a volunteer firefighter in 1971. In 1977 he graduated from the Creighton University Paramedic training class #2.
He passed on the anniversary of his wife's death.