Rescuer’s wife also is brave

Imagine: You are traveling on an airliner. With you are your husband, his parents and your two small children. Without warning, disaster strikes. You nod at your spouse — knowing he has asked silently for your permission to risk making you a widow.

It happened Tuesday in the sky near Philadelphia, when one engine on a Southwest Airlines plane exploded. Debris blew out a window. A woman was injured badly and might have been sucked from the aircraft had passengers not jeopardized their own safety to keep it from happening. Her injuries proved fatal.

Among those going to her aid was Andrew Needum, who is a firefighter from Texas. He was traveling with his parents, his wife Stephanie and their two young children.

Risk is part of the job for first responders such as Needum. They know that every day they go to work, they may be called upon to put their own lives on the line to save others.

But not while those most precious to them are watching.

Needum did something courageous, overshadowed only by his wife’s bravery and compassion for a woman she did not know.

God bless her for that and for reminding us of the same bravery and compassion demonstrated each and every day by the families of first responders everywhere.

Right here in our area are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men, women and children who understand all too well the emotions that must have been running through Stephanie Needum’s mind for painful seconds Tuesday.

God bless them, too.