I believe being an emergency responder is a calling. A person cannot survive as a firefighter or a paramedic without having a deep passion for the job. Without that passion, we will quickly burnout and move on to another career. Whether it is fighting a fire or fighting death, we always think we can win.
We go where we are needed, giving little thought to the sacrifice we or our families make. As emergency responders, when we help individuals we make no distinctions based on race, creed or color. We do not care what your sexual orientation is or if you are rich or poor. We go to help those in need.
I was one of the responders after the tornado in Hallem, Nebraska. We spent long hours helping the survivors. A week or so after the tornado, there was a church service held for the survivors in Martell, Nebraska. I remember one of the firefighters that lived in Hallem stopping to thank me for helping them. I shook his hand and asked him, “If the roles had been reversed, could you imagine being anywhere else?” He looked at for a moment and said “No.” We smiled at each other and I quickly said, “It’s who we are and what we do.”
We see people when they are at their most vulnerable. There is a saying in EMS (Emergency Medical Services). “We are the best part of your worst day.” Every time I walk into a room in response to someone who has called 911, I see the hope in their eyes. These people know that despite the outcome, I will do everything in my power to help them or their loved one. I am always amazed that after watching me perform CPR for over thirty minutes and there loved one still dies, a relative or loved one will come to me and shake my hand or give me a hug and say thank you.
I see a lot of tragedy in the world. I see those who are injured or killed by drunk drivers. I am the responder who sees the blank look in an infant’s eyes that has suffered from shaken baby syndrome. These things make it hard not to become cynical. But then I get the privilege to help deliver a new baby to a first time mother. Or I see someone whose life I helped save walking about town, and they stop and thank me. In those moments I realize the world is a good place.
I am a firefighter and paramedic. I thank God everyday that this is the calling in life that I have been blessed with. This, I most truly believe.