Roger Ascham


Every community has to have those who will respond on a moments notice to deal with the tragedies and emergencies. Some are paid and some are volunteer. The status stops at those designations. At that point it becomes the fire, rescue, EMS, or law enforcement. Regardless of the pay it is the people who are responsible with dealing with the emergency as it arises. At that point it is a brotherhood with the same requirements and responsibilities.

Training and certifications are the same for those doing the job of dealing with issues that arise. Much has been written and said of those who take on the responsibility of caring for those in need.

It was stated to a graduating class of the FDNY by the Chief instructor, “Being a hero was when you came to the job. After that everything is just in the line of duty.”

The well being of the responders many times takes a back seat from those who have tragedy befall them. No one cares if the unit coming with a red light and siren is paid or not.

Is there a standard profile for the person that comes to deal with others tragedies? There is. It is the willingness to make decisions and stand by them utilizing all the training, experience, resources, authority, and reality that they have at their disposal.

Adrenaline keeps the focus of the required actions at hand. No matter how horrible the circumstances the right, proper, and efficient actions must be done. But what of the responders well being?

As a retired firefighter/EMT there were calls that personally affected me as a person. I call them ‘lifetime events.’ As a first responder in any capacity you have to be able to function when everyone and everything is going to hell around you. The ‘wall’ or ‘thick skin’ that you build around your emotions is a requirement in order to keep your focus and sanity. You deal with the best and worst sometimes in the same moment. There is also a sick sense of humor that is a defense to keep the psyche in balance so your emotions are kept under control.

There is one thing that pierces through all the defenses. That is children. Most responders lifetime events will relate to tragedies involving children. There is no defense for that.

The wreck that occurred in southwest Sedgwick County was just 3 1/2 miles south of the fire station. Response was as good as it can be anywhere in the nation. My scanner will not reach far enough to hear how the call came out. But my knowledge of that intersection and what was probably broadcasted tells me that the adrenalin was very high for a lot of people. The tragedy of a mother and four children being involved in a grinding accident brought back my memories of my own lifetime events.

There is no comfort for the family. Only a strong faith can deal with it. But those running the extrication and trying to provide basic life support will long question themselves if they did enough or was there just one more thing I could have done? Even though the best was done it is something that will nag at them for life.

Those in the brotherhood know and pray for both victim and responder. Comfort is for those who have time. Those on the job have to be ready for whatever the next call is. The time for doubt is later.

Say a prayer for the victims but also include those who deal with what no one should witness.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.