We are first responders. We are the Firefighters, the EMT’s, the Paramedics, the Police. Some of us are paid and some of us are volunteers. We sacrifice our time, our effort, our sound minds, and peaceful nights, for nights of panic, chaos, and fear. We help when people are having their worst days; We help when people are in trouble; we help when there is a need. We cannot save everyone and sometimes we can do nothing but we will do our very best to make sure everyone comes out alive. We lose time with our families, we are late for events; We sometimes miss birthdays and holidays.
We do not expect you to understand why we do what we do, we just want you to accept us and our lifestyles. We were destined for this path and we cannot change it. You get angry because we leave in the middle of the night or we miss a date. But what if it was you mother having chest pains? What if it was you family trapped in the car and needed cut out? What if it was your home that was burglarized? What if it was you home that was engulfed in flames? If we did not do what we do then who would? You get angry at the fireman stopping traffic while EMS, Fire, and Police take care of that accident up ahead; But what if that was your family? What if that was your brother directing traffic? Would you want someone to drive right past them and not stop?
You see an ambulance, a cop car, or a fire engine coming behind you with lights and sirens. You fail to pull over. What if that was your family in the vehicle? What if they were responding to your family? We love what we do despite the haunts and hazards of the job. We see things normal people do not have to be traumatized to witness. We see faces nightly only to have that face replaced with another face more traumatizing than the last. We replay the scenes over and over in our head wondering if we could have done something differently. We hear the screams and cries for help in a quiet room while we are tucked safely in our beds. The dreams come and stay. Nights are sleepless at times, yet, when the pager goes off and the voice over the radio calls, we jump up and run again.
It’s the need to help. We jump and run and put ourselves in dangerous situations to help a perfect stranger. If we could explain why we do what we do, we would. We put our lives in danger for perfect strangers, yes. We may not be part of the military but we do our part to serve our communities. Who would be there if we weren’t? We are injured beyond repair by the visions we have seen.
Most times we appear OK. Sometimes we are. It’s at night or when we are alone, those dark shadows creep back up into our minds and haunt our dreams. We are not asking you to get what we do, We are simply asking you accept what we do and our choices. We do not do it for the glory or for the money. That is the farthest thing from our minds. We do it to help and to serve our communities. We are the first responders.