A Firemen's Wish


I Wish You Could

I wish you could see
the sadness of a business man as his livelihood goes up in flames or that
family returning home, only to find their house and belongings damaged
or destroyed.

I wish you could know
what it is 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 beneath you burns.

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

I wish you could know
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, and the eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in
dense smoke--sensations that I have 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 a working,
breathing fire? How is the building constructed? What hazards await me?
Is anyone trapped or are they all out?' 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 the doctor pronounces dead the beautiful little
five-year old girl that I have been trying to save during the past twenty-five
minutes, 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 right-of-way at an intersection or
in traffic. When you need us, however, your first comment upon our arrival
will be, "It took you forever to get here!"

I wish you could read
my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of teenage years from the mangled
remains of her automobile, 'What if this were my sister, my girlfriend,
or a friend? What were her parents' reactions going to be as they open
the door to find a police officer,

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 home from
this last call.

I wish you could feel
my hurt as people verbally, and sometimes physically,
abuse us or belittle what we 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

I wish you could know
the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life or preserving
someone's property, of being there in times of crisis, or creating order
from total CHAOS.

I wish you could understand
what it feels like to have a little boy tugging on your arm and asking,
"Is my Mommy O.K.?" Not even being able to look in his eyes without
tears falling from your own and 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 knowing all along he
did not have his seat belt on.
Sensations 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, what we are, or what our job really means to us.

-unknown author-


OCCIS main page