A Firefighters Wish"
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, your breath roaring in your ears, the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen below you burns.
I wish you could see the sadness of a businessman as his livelihood goes up in flames, or the anguish of that family standing in their front yard watching their home and belongings go up in flames and knowing their priceless memories are gone for good.
I wish you could comprehend a wife`s horror at 3 in the morning 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 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 turnout gear, the sound of flames crackling, the eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in dense smoke. Sensations that I`ve become all 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 or freezing cold 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 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 2x4 or a gun?"
I wish you could be in the emergency room as a doctor pronounces dead the beautiful five-year old girl that I have been trying my best to save during the past 25 minutes. A beautiful child who 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, 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. Or when I come up behind you in my Chief's car, lights flashing, siren yelping, frantic because I'm trying to get to a house fire with people trapped, but you're too busy talking on your cell phone to notice me.
When you need us however, your first comments upon our arrival will be, "What took you so long?"
I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a teenager from the remains of their automobile. "What if this was my sister/brother, my girlfriend or the daughter or son a friend? What will their parent’s reaction be when they open the door to find a police officer standing there with hat in hand?"
I wish you could know how it feels to greet my friends or family, not having the heart to tell them that I nearly did not come back from the last call.
I wish you could understand the physical, emotional and mental drain of all the missed meals, lost sleep and ruined social activities, in addition to all of life's ugliness my eyes have seen.
I wish you could know the brotherhood of firefighters and the satisfaction of being able to save a life or preserve someone`s property, or to do your best to be there in time of crisis, or to bring order from total chaos.
I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little child tugging at your arm and asking "Is Mommy okay?" And you're not able to look in their eyes without tears in your own and you don't know what to say. And you carry forever the thought in your heart of...what else could I have done?
I wish you could know the pain of having 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. And you know all along he did not have his seat belt on.
I wish you would stop thinking… "It will never happen to me." Unless you have lived this kind of life, you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, or what being a firefighter really means.
I wish you could though.
I AM A FIREFIGHTER