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Letter carriers saving lives -- six days a week

By Ed O'Keefe

If the U.S. Postal Service needs a reason to keep delivering the mail on Saturdays, it should consider the story of letter carrier Jim Dupont.

He had just finished delivering mail to the 1,192 addresses on his Rogers, Ark., route in June 2009 when a car and truck collided nearby. Dupont ran to the scene, pulled out the car's driver, helped a passenger out of the truck and then climbed through the back window to pull out the truck's driver, who was covered in blood.

All three survived the wreck -- which happened on a Saturday.

It also happened in Muskegon, Mich., where Penny Bell noticed on a Friday that mail was piling up in the mailbox of an elderly woman. She asked her Saturday substitute, Debbie Czarny, to check the house the next day. After knocking loudly, Czarny and rescuers found the woman disoriented on the floor, where she'd been lying for four days.

"Many of these most amazing acts of bravery and heroism go unreported," National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric V. Rolando said Thursday at a luncheon honoring Dupont, Bell, Czarny and dozens of other letter carriers who committed similar acts of bravery or community service in the last year.

On other weekdays: Salli Hislop, of Salt Lake City, called for help after a dog alerted her to an elderly man having a heart attack. Larry Gunkel, of Wichita, Kan., runs a program providing food on the weekends to more than 5,000 schoolchildren. Thomas Nehlen, of Youngstown, Ohio, ran into a burning house to ensure a family's safe exit and later that day helped a young boy who crashed into a car.

Thursday's winners are "just the tip of the iceberg," and prove that NALC's 210,000 city letter carriers often do much more than deliver the mail, Rolando said.

With Postmaster General John E. Potter and other Postal Service officials in attendance, Rolando gently reminded them several times that Saturday mail deliveries are still valued by NALC members, who fear ending six-day mail delivery could mean job losses and wage cuts.

But Potter -- and a majority of the American public -- support ending Saturday deliveries as USPS revenues slide and mail volume plummets.

Dupont keeps in touch with the accident victims but has lost thousands of dollars in pay and benefits as he recovers from injuries he sustained from the rescue. He may undergo a second shoulder surgery soon, he said. But he said he responded because his customers would have done the same for him.

"They're part of your family," Dupont said in an interview. "They see you on your route, you're hot, exhausted, and they bring you lemonade. They watch you; if you're having issues, they call in help. It's a two-way thing. I don't hesitate; I don't think anyone would. It's just helping our fellow citizens."

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | October 7, 2010; 4:56 PM ET
Categories:  Postal Service  
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Comments

Wouldn't it be cheaper, and save more lives, to reduce delivery days (which according to polls is okay with most people), and use the money saved to hire more cops/firefighters/etc. - who are specially trained for this sort of thing?

Posted by: andre7 | October 7, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

alot of carriers check on their older customers everyday.

however, we have more mail volume than we have had in years. monday is unreal, already.
don't believe what you read from the usps.
the polls are all about how you ask the question.
let me ask you: if we got your check on saturday, is it ok if we deliver it monday?
if we got your medicine on saturday, is it ok if we deliver it on monday?
if we got your netflix, is it ok if we deliver it on monday?

Posted by: l889a | October 7, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

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