Church leaders at the Providence Road Baptist Church in Caddo Parish are literally bridging the gap between first responders and the communities they serve.
Reconstruction of the Springridge Texas State Line Bridge was going to cause long detours for Caddo Parish Fire District 4 to service a portion of its district on the west side of the bridge.
The church, which sits on the west side, has now allowed some firefighters to bunk in its gymnasium. This allows the first responders to service both sides of the district in a timely manner.
"It's been a building that's been used before as a hurricane shelter like for Katrina and for Rita," said Providence Road Pastor Darell Dean.
"When we all kind of heard together that the bridge was closing it was going to create some inconveniences but particularly for the fire district it was going to create major delays in them being able to respond to medical calls and fire calls," he said.
And according to officials, those delays could have bulked up response times by 15 minutes for some residents.
Instead, this faith/fire partnership could end up being a divine-like intervention for those in need of help.
Caddo Parish Fire Captain Kevin Coleman said quick responses are vital in emergency situations.
"It's very crucial when you're talking about medical emergencies and medical patients that need help quickly then time matters," he said.
The Providence gym is equipped with some of the same amenities as a regular fire station including a full kitchen, sleeping quarters, showers and a work-out room.
"I don't know if there's anywhere on this side of the bridge that's capable of housing us and doing the kind of things that they are doing for us," Coleman said.
But Dean said it's all just part of the church's calling.
"So often as a church, we try to meet the spiritual needs of a community," he said. "Well, here we can meet a very practical need."
Officials say the bridge is scheduled to be closed for the next 30 days.
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