In calling Cleburne Fire Chief Scott Lail a hero, Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon added that Lail has made a significant positive difference over the past year and change.
“There’s no telling how many lives you’ve actually saved,” Harmon told Lail. “Seriously. I don’t know if you’ve thought about that, but you’ve saved lives.
“You grabbed the bull by the horns and put a great team together throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. In my role over emergency management for the county I’ve watched what was going on throughout all of this and Scott did an outstanding job.”
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R—Austin, agreed.
“America has heroes,” Williams said. “We’re great on heroes. But Texas is a state of heroes, and when you get to Johnson County and Cleburne we have a hero here today with us. Chief, I want to tell you I appreciate what you have done and I know everyone appreciates your leadership.”
Williams traveled to Cleburne Monday morning to present the Congressional Community Hero Award to Lail in honor of Lail’s “dedicated public service to the city of Cleburne during the COVID-19 pandemic and 2021 winter storm.”
Both events, Williams said, made for “unprecedented times.”
“We’ve been through COVID-19 and who the heck even knew what that was before 2020?” Williams said. “And then you think about the 500 years storm earlier this year. You think of what we’ve all been through as a country, state and this local community and all the things we had never thought about or trained for before. I don’t think you all trained for COVID-19 or for 10 degree below zero or whatever it was weather.”
Lail led local efforts of city and county officials as well as other officials and volunteers to tackle the pandemic. Such efforts included Cleburne’s COVID-19 testing site followed soon after by the city’s vaccination hub.
Cleburne firefighters conducted 2,200 COVID-19 tests and, with the help of others, administered 25,276 vaccinations over a 147-day period. Those vaccinated included people from all over Texas, other states and eight foreign countries.
Throughout the process, Cleburne firefighters not involved with the testing center or vaccination hub had to carry on with the usual duties of the fire department. In spite of that, Lail said, firefighters responded to more than 7,500 calls and never missed a call.
Firefighters did so, Lail added, while following strict COVID-19 precautionary measures such as suiting out in face masks and full personal protection equipment on every call.
During Winter Storm Uri, Lail’s team, along with others, responded to numerous weather-related emergencies including helping those without acquire fresh water and other life necessities including a warming shelter established at the Cleburne Conference Center.
The Cleburne Rotary Club last month recognized Lail and the Cleburne Fire Department during their annual Vocational Service Excellence Awards ceremony.
Williams’ Monday visit took place at Cleburne Fire Station No. 1 attended by Lail’s fellow firefighters as well as other city and county officials and members of Lail’s family.
Williams took the opportunity to thank all public servants present.
“I want to thank all of you for all you do for the community,” Williams said. “What a time to be in law enforcement or to be a firefighter or first responder. I know some of you might think people don’t appreciate you. But I’m here to tell you that 99.9 percent of the people in America appreciate you and all you do.”
Lail for his part shifted credit to his firefighters and others who helped make the endeavors of the past year and a half successful.
“I know this is hard for you chief because you don’t like to be the focus at all,” Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said. “But you know what? We recognize you and we could not as a community have gotten through COVID-19 without your leadership and without you assembling this team you brought together. So today is about your leadership and your vision in pulling together a team.”