Rescuers get big treat at bistro |

Rescuers get big treat at bistro

Matt Zalaznick

In a delicious tribute to firefighters, police officers, paramedics and emergency room doctors and nurses, the Vail Village restaurant is serving them free dinners for two during this anniversary week of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The dinners were about the nicest gift ever given to the emergency room, said Joyce Morgan, a nurse and director of emergency services at Vail Valley Medical Center.

“It’s more than the fine dining, it’s the importance of the generosity,” said Morgan, who dined Monday with a few friends from the Vail Fire Department. “This is the biggest communal gift we’ve ever seen at the emergency room, at the staff level.”

Sept. 11 is a profound anniversary for firefighters, says Vail Fire Capt. Mark Benson.

“When you lose hundreds of your brothers, it’s big-time,” Benson said.

Firefighter Dave Eich, a Vail fire technician, said Sept. 11 –and the bravery at the World Trade Center that amazed Americans –was more of a wake-up call for the rest of the country than for firefighters.

“It’s just a part of our job, and we’ve been doing it for so long,” Eich said. “It’s more of a dose of reality for the public than for us, because we’ve seen the bad things that can happen.”

And even though the rubble at the World Trade Center has been cleaned up –and there haven’t been more terrorists attacks on the U.S. –firefighters say they are ready for anything, Benson said.

“People get complacent, we don’t. We know anything can happen. That’s the fire service – designed by disaster,” Benson said.

Firefighters don’t seek the limelight for saving homes from fire or pulling people from car wrecks, but a little recognition is nice, says former Vail Firefighter Skip Faries, who dined at the Bistro Monday night.

“Firefighters are normal people who find themselves in extraordinary situations,” says Faries, who is now a firefighter in Denver.

He wondered if the refined Vail eatery could handle a room full of the Vail Valley’s bravest.

“We’re going to put all the tables together and it could get ugly,” Faries said. “I don’t typically frequent these kinds of restaurants. It’s nice to get out and enjoy the side of Vail I don’t typically get to see.”

“Unless it’s Valentine’s Day,” said Vail Firefighter Mike Mulcahy, who dined with Faries and Faries’ mother.

Folks in the valley reached out to local firefighters after Sept. 11, Mulcahy said.

“We’ve always been treated with a lot of respect and that hasn’t changed,” Mulcahy said. “After Sept. 11, people here weren’t able to go to New York and do anything for firefighters there, so reaching out to us was a way of completing the chain.”

Among the specialties emergency workers will get to try at Terra Bistro are ahi wrapped with toasted rice, pepper-crusted beef tenderloin and salmon seared crispy with hash-browns.

Terra Bistro is also well known for its vegetarian menu, Executive Chef Kevin Nelson said.

“People don’t recognize these guys until they need them,” Nelson said. “I remember how I was feeling watching the towers go down. I can only imagine how these guys were feeling, that if they were there, they’d be in the building.”

Nelson said members of his staff are volunteering their time to serve the dinners this week to the emergency workers.

Nurse Jeff Myers, who dined with his wife Darla, also a nurse, and friend Marion Bauer, said he was gratified that Terra Bistro included emergency nurses on the list of 200 emergency workers invited to the dinners that run through Friday night.

After Sept. 11, people had a better idea of what goes on in emergency rooms during disasters, Jeff Myers said.

“More people are aware of what happens after what happens in the field,” he said. “There’s been more recognition for field workers and paramedics. It’s nice to see more of the team involved.”

In the wake of Sept. 11 and anthrax attacks, emergency workers have become more alert about bio-terrorism and other rare illnesses.

“We’re more generally aware of the possibilities,” he said. “Emergency workers now have more respect for each other. It’s the whole idea that you don’t really know what’s going to happen.”

Darla said emergency nurses and doctors are an integral part of the rescue team.

“The emergency room, paramedics, police, firefighters – we help each other out,” she said.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at

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