Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Everyday Heroes

A lot has happened in our country over the past few months. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Mass shootings. Through it all, first responders – firefighters, EMS personnel, law enforcement – answered the call, putting their safety on the line in service to others as they are trained to do. Many people call them heroes; many “heroes” will humbly say they were just doing their job.

(Photos from Wikimedia Commons)
But as is typical, many unsung heroes also emerged in the midst of catastrophic incidents. The images were stunning: People wading through flooded neighborhoods or using their personal watercraft to make rescues. Hospital staff evacuating patients down a street as wildfire raged behind them. Concert goers giving first aid to shooting victims, and using their own vehicles (or commandeering someone else’s) to transport the wounded to hospitals. In the aftermath came efforts to ease the suffering, with citizens of all ages, races, religious beliefs, political leanings, and socio-economic backgrounds doing what they could for people they do not know by donating, volunteering, and fund-raising.

We live in a world that seemingly has gone mad. Random violence, terrorism, politics, scam artists, and general nastiness dominate daily headlines. And yet in the absolute worst of times, ordinary people, often with little or no background in emergency operations, step up to help one another. Neighbors help neighbors. Strangers help strangers. The invisible boundaries that divide us vanish in the name of working together for the greater good. People simply do what needs to be done.

The next time you see police officers, firefighters, or EMS crews, go ahead and give them a friendly wave. Stop and chat with them if they’re not busy. Let them know they’re appreciated.

But then do the same with your fellow citizens in the community. Because they will likely also be there when you need them most.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Firefighting In the News

A person’s perspective about local, state, national, or world events is undeniably linked to the news and information he or she chooses to consume (as well as what media outlets choose to serve us). I gravitate toward emergency services stories and websites simply because that’s the field in which I work. Since I also manage my fire department’s social media, my daily newsfeed is filled with posts about emergency incidents, line-of-duty deaths and injuries, firefighter health and safety issues, training, and much more.

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com)
To give you an idea of what I see every day, here is a sampling of fire service headlines from July 31, 2017:

  • 2 firefighters, 1 resident injured as fire rips through historic Oregon home
  • Boise Firefighters Rescue Drunken Man Stuck in Pipe
  • Detroit firefighter dies after battling back-to-back blazes
  • Elephant Hill Fire in British Columbia grows to 194,000 acres
  • Cal Fire air tanker pilot accidentally drops fire retardant in neighborhood

Even though these stories probably didn’t receive much attention outside of the immediate geographic areas in which they occurred, it’s a safe bet that some firefighters across the country took notice. (I say “some” because, like the general population, not every firefighter pays close attention to the news these days…)

My point is this: If you’re a writer who wants to learn about firefighting for a project, don’t overlook the volumes of information available online and in your social media feeds. In addition to news items from national publications and sites, many fire departments have websites and accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All of these are great resources for learning about the fire service, what firefighters are talking about, or how a particular department operates. They can also give you an insider’s view into the issues that concern firefighters in different parts of the country (and the world).

I’ve linked to some of my favorites in the Helpful Resources and Blogs Worth Reading sections of this blog, but those lists are by no means a complete catalog of what’s available. With some judicious Google searches you can find just about anything you’re looking for.