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A Firefighter'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 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 viewed.


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 or Daddy 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.



-Thoughts of a Firefighter-