A firefighter sat on the sidewalk reading a book to a little girl as emergency crews cleared up a crash scene on Broadwater Avenue and Second Avenue North in Billings on Wednesday night. The picture of Ryan Benton and the girl was posted on the Billings firefighters' Instagram account and widely shared.
Allie Marie Schmalz posted on Facebook: "I’m so glad I took that picture because it was the sweetest moment! Our first responders don’t get the appreciation that they deserve!
As for the crash itself - Brittney Benson posted: "This was my nephew's wreck. Fortunately no one was seriously injured."
Benton did not want to talk about the picture, but fellow firefighter Cameron Abell agreed to an interview to discuss Benton and the photo.
"We're going to take care of the job we're doing there first," said Abell, Billings Fire Department engineer. "That's our first priority. But there's a lot of times after like the story you saw in the social media post. That firefighter, Ryan, he was there, they were cleaning up the car accident, and so he took it upon himself to, to take the time to make those kids feel safe."
"Ryan's a really humble guy and he's probably going to kill me for kind of putting him in the spotlight," Abell said. "But he, he did great work that day and he said he didn't want to be on the interview because that's his job and he's just doing his job. And that's kind of how we all feel. But we all know when somebody does something like that and gets spotlighted for it. It's good to recognize their good work."
Abell says there has always been something to give the kids in those situations and the Rimrock Credit Union and Usborne Books have supplied the book bags for about three years.
"The book bags were an idea to bring some calm into their lives, to bring some sensibility into a really stressful situation," Abell said. "There's a lot that goes on that they may not understand or they're just overwhelmed by, and so if we can bring a book in that kind of explains what complicated situations are kind of explains what firefighters do and maybe there's a stuffed plush toy in there, just kind of the, the combination. That kind of can bring them some sense of normalcy in a really terrible situation, sometimes for them. Something that we deal with on a day in and day out basis that parents may not be able to cope with yet because they're also going through the same situation. The sense of calm that maybe we can bring to the children can help the adults calm down as well."