Lots has been written about EMS and Fire and PD and safety and LODD's, and all sorts of blah, blah, really important stuff. Every 2nd week EMT candidate recites the words "BSI, scene safe" in his or her sleep. As an instructor, I try and make it come alive and say that Scene Safety is not about some mythical bad guy hiding in the shadows at a domestic violence call, but rather its about the unsecured street that your working in, the abandoned building you just entered, the blood that is soaking through your boots and pants while you kneel down and hold someones hand as they die. Those are the real issues of scene safety. "Forget about the DV call, the cops already got that guy all hemmed up." I try and educate and instill a higher order of thinking that allows them to be prepared in advance for the crazy things they're going to face. For the most part this works. For the most part we are able to educate unsafe practices out of folks, and for the most part we're able to protect ourselves from most "icky stuff" even in the field. But sometimes, just sometimes, a situation arises in which a hero is needed. Every day all over the entire world, men and women step up to be just that. Later on they are Monday morning quarterbacked to death, their actions portrayed in the media as foolish, the talk around the base or the station about how "we would have done it". The Lawyers already seeing dollar signs regarding the mistakes that have been revealed. Some of us though know the truth, that at that particular moment in time, a hero was needed.
So here is my brief ode to the heroes, they go through hell some days, the ones who stop their cars and hold bloody necks still while waiting for the on duty responders, the ones who are covered in blood, shit and vomit at the end of the call because a chief complaint of vomiting wasn't thought to bring about a naked man covered in GI blood and vomit who happened to stop breathing as you pulled up. The responders who run up to a car on fire with no PPE and only a fire extinguisher, the Paramedics who help a man evacuate his dogs from a burning house while waiting for the FD to arrive after realizing that their only other choice was to tie him down. The responders who dig through glass and rubble at a building collapse before the USAR team is activated. The ones who trek through the woods in the winter looking for lost and hurt hunters despite having no special wilderness gear or training. Here is to the first responders trained and untrained who risk everything to save their fellow man. Mostly though, here's to the heroes that keep going to work, day in day out, shift after shift they keep putting on their uniforms and boots and go do it all again despite personal problems, despite an imperfect marriage, despite low pay and crappy conditions, despite the fact that if George Clooney walked in to the living room while they were coding someone, the family would probably ask him to save them. You do us all proud, every day, I am so very proud to have been among you.