Many of you know that I have four firefighters in my family. Two of my daughters are firefighters and so are their husbands.
Many of you also know that Loser considers them to be “just fucking firefighters.” Since I was an EMT, I guess we all know what he thought of me, too.
Some EMS systems work independently of the Fire Department. That’s the system I ran. Some Fire Departments ARE the EMS system, which is what my children run.
My children work 24 hour shifts. If they get a call at three o’clock in the morning, they have to be ready to perform straight out of a dead sleep. Many shifts, they get no sleep.
My children and their crews have to respond to calls in the middle of the night for things like a “bad dream.”
They get calls from pregnant women feigning “imminent birth” and when they arrive on scene, the women have a suitcase packed. They want a free ride to the hospital.
They get calls from men pretending to be “injured” and when they arrive, all the men want is a ride to the nearest convenience store to buy beer and cigarettes.
While they are on scene for calls like this, real calls are delayed. Once, there was a pretty bad fire at a condo unit. A helicopter flying over just happened to see the smoke and called the television stations.
Programs were interrupted to “cover” this huge fire. The “anchor” started saying things like “we don’t see any fire trucks but there’s a station at the entrance to these condos. I wonder what they are doing?”
Then this woman goes on to say “well, folks, this should give you an indication of the response time of your local fire department.”
She didn’t bother to find out that the station that should have responded was on a call for “a squirrel is on my back porch.” Yes. A squirrel was on somebodys’ back porch and protocol says the Fire Department MUST respond to any and all calls.
Another unit, stationed thirty miles away had to respond, which was the reason for the delay.
There have been countless times when some “concerned citizen” has called headquarters to complain about seeing firefighters in a grocery store. They want to know why they aren’t out fighting fires. They don’t seem to understand. Firefighters have to buy and fix their own food. It is not catered.
My oldest daughter is an engineer medic who regularly rides up as lieutenant. She is 5′ 2″ and drives the engine. A call came in at around two o’clock in the morning as “woman in distress.” My daughter was driving around a winding road, as fast as she could and when she rounded the curve, a huge tree had fallen.
Somehow, that little girl managed to turn that 60,000 pound engine one hundred and eighty degrees to end up parallel with the tree. She came to a halt up one inch away from it. There wasn’t a scratch on the truck and she potentially saved the lives of every single one of her crew members.
After they cut up the tree and moved it, they were able to continue to the call. Thankfully, the womans’ “distress” turned out to be a bird in her house. When they arrived and opened her door, the bird flew out. The woman said “well, while you’re here, put me up some smoke detectors” and then went to bed. That ridiculous call could have cost my daughter and her crew their lives.
My children handle the bullshit calls pretty well. They also handle the stress and trauma pretty well, especially K****. She very rarely gets rattled and when she does, it’s usually because she had to run on somebody her brothers’ age or my and Losers’ age.
She called me one morning and I could tell she was shaken up. She and her crew responded to the scene of a motorcycle accident. (We used to call them donorcycles.) It was a young man, my son’s age and he had somehow lost control.
She cried a little when she said “mom. He did everything right. He had on a leather jacket, chaps, gloves, high boots and a helmet…but it wasn’t enough.” Being the medic on scene, it was up to her to try to save his life but he was too severely injured. He was looking right into her eyes when he died. I doubt if she will ever forget him.
These brave men and women are sometimes the only thing standing between you and certain disaster and even death. They do the proverbial “running into a burning building when everybody else is running out.” They will crawl on their hands and knees through thick smoke to find you and they will not give up until they do. They will give you their air to breathe and cover you with their body to protect you from the flames.
They go out in freezing weather. They go out in pouring rain. They go out when the temperature is over a hundred degrees, dressed in full bunker gear.
They have to climb up numerous flights of stairs while wearing eighty pounds of equipment. They repel down skyscrapers. They jump into rivers and lakes to rescue people. They have the skill and expertise to cut you out of a mangled vehicle while protecting you at the same time.
They risk being mowed down by distracted drivers. This happened to one of them when a woman was trying to get around them, while texting. She killed the driver they were trying to rescue and almost killed a firefighter.
They put their lives on the line every single day and they never complain because they have a duty to act.
These gentle warriors rarely get recognition for their service. They rarely get a “thank you.”
Maybe the next time you see a firefighter, you could walk up to them and simply say “I appreciate what you do.”
To me, they are heroes and I am proud of them so when Loser calls them “just fucking firefighters,” I want to say “okay. If you ever think you’re having a heart attack, call a fucking newspaper editor and let’s see how that goes!”