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'A very special time' | Arkansas first responders spend Thanksgiving dinner together

On a cold and rainy Thanksgiving day, many of us gathered with our families. For first responders with MEMS though, they spent the day together.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — On a cold and rainy Thanksgiving day, many of us are gathered with our families for the holidays. For our first responders, though, this is just another Thursday.

"I tell people when we hire them, Christmas is no longer Christmas and Thanksgiving is no longer Thanksgiving," MEMS Executive Director Greg Thompson, said. "I think as first responders go, if it's a day to work it's a day to work."

It's why MEMS employees were treated to a Thanksgiving feast Thursday.

Spending the holiday at work may not sound like the happiest thing, but you haven't sat at the table these first responders have.

"It can be difficult," Thompson said. "It can be more difficult sometimes on their families not having [holidays] with them."

For paramedic Alan Doerpinghaus, this Thanksgiving meal is more than just that. It's a chance to catch up over a meal that he wouldn't have otherwise had.

"It's about the only way you can get through Thanksgiving and Christmas, things like that, when everyone's together," he said. "It's just a good feeling to come in and be able to sit down and eat and hang out and talk to everybody again."

With a job filled with as much stress and emotion as theirs, you sometimes need a break.

"You get to come in and sit down and talk to everybody you haven't talked to in a long time," Doerpinghaus said. "It's not like we get to run into each other a lot, and this makes it a lot easier."

On a Thanksgiving as rainy and cold as this, you just need a chance to have a laugh. It doesn't matter what's on the table or what time you eat – the only thing that matters are the people sitting with you.

"In our field, we don't get the opportunity to be able to sit together like this and eat very often," Thompson said. "So this is a very special time for us."

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