Appreciate, support those who risk their lives

"I wish you could see the sadness of a business person as his or her livelihood goes up in flames, or that family returning home, only to find their house and belongings damaged or lost for good. I wish you could know what it is like to search a burning bedroom for trapped children, flames rolling above your head, your palms and knees burning as you crawl, the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen below you burns.

"I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror at 3 a.m. as I check her husband of 40 years for a pulse and find none. I start CPR anyway, hoping to bring him back, knowing intuitively it is too late. But wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to try to save his life.

"I wish you knew the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of soot-filled mucus, the feeling of intense heat through your turn-out gear, the sound of flames crackling, the eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in dense smoke -- sensations that I've become too familiar with.

"I wish you could understand how it feels to go to work in the morning after having spent most of the night hot and soaking wet at a multiple alarm fire.

"I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a building fire. 'Is this a false alarm or is it a working fire? How is the building constructed? What hazards await me? Is anyone trapped?' Or to an EMS call, 'What is wrong with the patient? Is it minor or life threatening? Is the caller really in distress or is he waiting for us with a 2-by-4 or a gun?'

"I wish you could be in the emergency room as a doctor pronounces dead the beautiful 5-year-old girl who I have been trying to save during the past 25 minutes. She will never go on her first date or say the words, 'I love you, Mommy,' again.

"I wish you could know the frustration I feel in the cab of the engine or my personal vehicle, the driver with his foot pressing down hard on the pedal, my arm tugging again and again at the air horn chain, as you fail to yield the right-of-way at an intersection or in traffic. When you need us, however, your first comment upon arrival will be, 'It took you forever to get here!'

"I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of teen-age years from the remains of her automobile. 'What if this was my sister, my girlfriend or a friend? What is her parents reaction going to be when they open the door to find a police officer with hat in hand?'

"I wish you could know how it feels to walk in the back door and greet my parents and family, not having the heart to tell them that I nearly did not come back from the last call.

"I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally, and sometimes physically abuse us or belittle what I do, or as they express their attitudes of 'It will never happen to me.' I wish you could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain of missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities, in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen.

"I wish you knew the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life, preserving someone's property, being able to be there in time of crisis, or creating order from total chaos.

"I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging at your arm and asking, 'Is Mommy OK?,' and not being able to look in his eyes without tears from your own, not knowing what to say. Or to have to hold back a long-time friend who watches his buddy having rescue breathing done on him as they take him away in the ambulance. You know all along he did not have his seat belt on. A sensation that I have become too familiar with.

"Unless you have lived this kind of life, you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, who we are, or what our job really means to us, but please try to understand, this is me."

The author of the above piece is unknown, but readers should appreciate and support the local firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers in our area. One day these people will probably be saving their property or their life.


Amity Fire District   |  401 Trade St., Amity, OR  97101   |   Tel. 503-835-2311   Fax. 503-835-3780