BELLAIRE - For Nelson and Betty Coulter, getting up at all hours of the night for an emergency call is just part of their job.
But they aren't firefighters, police officers or deputies.
For seven years, the Bellaire couple has run the Salvation Army's Belmont County canteen - a disaster relief service that provides aid to those responding to emergencies.
"I got two pagers on my side," Nelson Coulter pointed out, noting he and his wife are always on call.
Whenever a bad fire breaks out or a serious disaster, such as a flood, hits the county, the canteen is there, providing various food, water and other supplies needed for not only the emergency responders but for any possible victims. While Nelson Coulter said the canteen primarily responds to structure fires, other major disasters, like the floods of 2004, have kept him, his wife and other volunteers very busy. They also responded to the Shadyside flood in 1991.
"You just ride around and you see those floods and you just feel sorry for those people," Betty Coulter said, noting that's the reason they do what they do. In addition to volunteering with the canteen, she also works at Riesbeck's Food Market in Bridgeport.
The couple has police scanners in their home, keeping constant vigil of the emergency calls that come over them every day. When he hears something that stands out, Nelson, a 35-year retired firefighter from the Rock Hill Fire Department, radioes out to the department handling the call to see if they need the canteen's assistance. If so, a fully stocked canteen also arrives, ready to provide hot dogs, hamburgers, Gatorade, water and other necessities to those who may be on the scene for hours or even days at a time.
One time that stands out in the couple's mind is 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Immediately after the hurricane hit, the couple, along with other volunteers, took the canteen to New Orleans and Mississippi, providing needed relief for thousands of people.
"It was just awful," Betty Coulter said. "People were without food, power, everything."
She noted that even though so many were severely affected by that hurricane, the nearby community members who could help did, often cooking food and then giving it to the canteen to distribute among the victims.
The canteen also can be seen providing refreshments at various community functions throughout the year, such as ORSANCO's annual River Sweep and even some local school functions. It also makes an appearance in Wheeling's Christmas parade.
While the canteen is funded mainly by donations, Nelson Coulter said there aren't enough donation funds to cover its costs. But he said the canteen is making due, thanks in part to local organizations like the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, in addition to many local fire departments that make donations.
And when they aren't working or on the scene of a disaster with the canteen, you might find the Coulters volunteering their time with the Bellaire Salvation Army, where the canteen vehicle is kept.
"We just want to help," the Coulters said.