Where there’s smoke…

   About 4 years ago Anita and I had traveled, by plane, from McCook, NE to Washington, DC for some fire meeting. On our way back, a 19-year-old from Washington state was on the plane with a huge bag of books. Anita inquired. He was headed to McCook for the compressed paramedic program - the first I had ever heard of the program - at McCook Community College. Basically, the program takes you from EMT to paramedic in a little over three months of book learning, a bit more of practicals and ride alongs - and then the national registry test. The program is quite successful. 

   This young man has become nearly a son to us. He is a firefighter. He is very smart. Over the course period we had 4 or 5 of the students with us in church as well. The next year we also met a young man from Oregon - a firefighter - who was in the program at that time. With both classes, Anita ended up making a homemade dinner every week for the students in the program (normally 8 to 10 students) - for both years. Last year we never made any connections, but this year the young man’s fire service Captain from Washington state is in the program and we hooked up. And we now routinely have 5 to 6 of them in church with us on Sundays - and Anita has been making a meal every week. This is a pretty intense program as you can well imagine. They are away from their families, their departments and their friends. We just had them down for supper Monday night. These are the smartest young people that I have met. They study hard. They learn quick. Some will be doctors some day. Why am I telling you this story? Well, if you’re interested in getting in the program, this is a good way to eat a free meal off of me every week (LOL). Seriously, I tell you this because this is how we ought to be building the family of the fire service. I’ve said it before in this column - we talk a lot about family, but do we live it out? 

   I find that firefighters (and EMS personnel), both career and volunteer, are pretty much the same the world over. They are the most compassionate, caring and professional people you’d ever want to meet. I know there are always exceptions to the rule, but boy those are few and far between. You should all be very proud of yourselves for what you have accomplished and for what you do for the communities you live in. We see people when they are having their worst possible day and we provide hope to them - whether they are having a fire, having a medical emergency, or have been involved in some type of accident - they trust us to make it all better. Sometimes it doesn’t get better. Houses burn down, people die - but people know how much we care and how we treat people. That is why we rank high in public opinion polls. 

   This is my challenge to each of you - find some way to reach out beyond your department or agency - touch the lives of other first responders in meaningful ways, because where there’s smoke... 



Blaze Publications, Inc.

Jeff Gargano - Editor
P.O. Box 122
Humboldt, IA 50548

News and Advertising: News and advertising deadlines are the 15th of each month for the next month's issue.


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