The Best Thing To Do Is Start.
I have spent nearly the last 11 years of my life involved in emergency responses. From volunteering at a very small rural department to flying the most critical of patients to some of the top trauma centers in the country. I stumbled upon it all by happenstance, over burgers with my parents and a friend of theirs at a rural restaurant in a small town in New Mexico.
I was 17, going on 18. I had graduated high school early and was competing on a national martial arts circuit and running my own karate school full time. I had done a couple of private lessons with students from my competition team that morning, and met my parents and their friend (K) for lunch. My dad and “K” were both prison wardens, so when they teamed up for an interrogation (especially on a teenager), there was little room for bullshitting.
K: “So, you are about to be 18. You figured out what you are going to do yet?”
At the time I was dead set on moving out right at 18 and had plenty of aspirations and goals about what I was going to do once I got out. The fibers of my brain responsible for certain logical trains of thought had yet to myelinate and mature. I had toyed with the idea of forensic sciences at the time, largely in part to CSI, but hadn’t thought about much other than “going into forensics someday”. I was pretty consumed with the martial arts circuit, and made decent enough money running my school and doing private lessons on the side.
Dad: “Have you thought about firefighting? There’s the volunteer department at the prison.”
We lived on prison grounds when I was a teenager, and there was a small fire department manned by trustee inmates and a few of the guards and officers from the prison. I hadn’t ever put a lot of thought into doing it for a living. I knew that my uncle had played his cards right and retired from the Fire Service as a Chief. He provided an amazing living for his family and I had always admired and respected him for that. This was the first time that I had ever considered it, and knowing that they were alluding to joining the small volunteer department, I double considered it as I devoured an amazing green chili cheeseburger (yes, I still remember….some things you don’t forget).
We talked for the better part of an hour about the benefits of me pursuing a career in the Fire Service, and what it would take from me at that point forward. I was excited. I didn’t know at the time, but I really needed something to focus my energy on, and that was it. I jumped in as soon as I was eligible, and started my “career” there in the middle of nowhere.
The point to that story is this: I’ve come a long ways and I had to start not knowing anything about it, just like everyone else. It’s my personal reminder though. So I’m taking that life lesson and applying it here. I’ve always wanted to write, and in fact I do so often. Just not publicly, until now. This is my start.
I think about that little place in the rural desert often. I have even looked at it from the air in a helicopter on a few occasions. In the grand scheme of things, that wasn’t all that long ago. I will say this much about that kid though. He had no idea. Absolutely no idea…and for that I’m very thankful. Because it would have scared the hell out of him and he would have done something else.
I can’t imagine it any other way.
The point of this is to journal the journey, and it won’t be for everyone. I don’t believe much in filtering or censoring, this will be pretty raw at times. I believe in writing about both sides of the spectrum. People focus a lot on the tragedy of EMS, the dark humor and “gallows tales” that get us through. All comedy comes from a dark place, I believe that fully. I just want to describe those places, as I’ve experienced them. Not all of the comedy is dark or “gallows” humor. Some is just right there in your face, and you can’t make it up. Basically, I want to shine a light on it all.
On a quick note, I will state that each of the names, places, and events will be altered for the sake of these writings. One thing that won’t be altered is the story and the emotion. I’ve always wanted to journal and document some of these stories. I’ve made a commitment now to follow through and do so, and these are my tales.
I hope you enjoy.