Chances are, by the time you read this, we will have had a major winter storm. When writing this, one was predicted for Thursday.

If that storm occurred, schools canceled classes, some banks and stores may have closed, and even government offices might have shut down.

But for many, the world doesn't sit still for any reason. They work no matter what. In the worst conditions, they remain unsung heroes.

For instance, individuals who care for nursing home residents nurses, CNAs, dieticians have to remain on duty no matter what. The residents won't survive without their assistance. It doesn't matter how many inches of snow we get, they'll be at work.

Along with them are hospital personnel and home health care employees. There are home-bound people who need wrappings changed daily and depend on help to survive.

Ambulance personnel never take off due to foul weather. If someone goes into cardiac arrest, has an appendix burst, or suffers some other life-threatening illness, ambulance personnel don't wait until the snow stops to provide care. Hesitation would surely be fatal.

Then there are our volunteer fire company personnel and fire police. They don't even get paid and respond whether there's a blizzard, if temperatures are way below zero, or if roadways are slippery. When a fire occurs during a storm, they always manage to get through. Often some volunteers remain at the fire house during such weather so that they are available for response.

Police, doctors, and police dispatchers never let weather get in the way of their responsibilities.

Those road maintenance crews who make highways passable, especially for emergency crews, are among the unsung heroes during inclement weather. So are utility workers who restore electrical power or repair broken water pipes.

Among the unseen heroes are our farmers. They can't take a day off because of the weather. They still have to milk the cows, feed the livestock, and in other ways make sure their operations continue. Many people depend on them.

Admittedly the weather conditions during a storm can be very dangerous. Closing schools is the right thing to do so our youngsters remain safe. In fact, shutting down non-essential services makes perfect sense.

But we owe a debt of gratitude to those who do risk their lives battling the elements to keep others safe.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com