The things we see are not always the greatest in our field. Sometimes they keep us up at night, much like I am now. Whether it be the car wrecks, house fires, trauma calls, or general incidents that for some reason just… “stick.” Whether it be that it was someone the age of your child, or younger sibling, or it reminds you of a trauma of your past. We do not know when the next call will come, whether it be in five minutes, or five hours. All we know is that when tones drop, we drop what we are doing, rush into that rig, and do everything we can for the people we are about to meet. We will pour our hearts and souls into the situation to try and do what we do best. We will walk into absolute chaos, and pull all the pieces together to make sure we make it home in one piece, and do everything we can to make sure who we are going to will as well. This is the promise we make to the public we swear to protect. Whether it be a personal oath, or an oath of a city or department.

Ladder 3 from the 9/11 Memorial, a solemn reminder of what dangers we might face.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a hand hold on the way to the hospital. Other times it’s a knock down battle, fighting the god of death for every inch, tooth, and nail. Fighting with everything we have to keep that person alive, whether it be through a hose in a burning blaze or a medical bag in the back of the box. We are there. We fight what most people fear. We are often told that we are brave because we are not scared. However, I find that’s not true. We are scared, whether it be of losing our patient, or of death itself. Petrified at the thought of losing the 8 month old child that has SIDS because it doesn’t matter how much you train, holding and working on an 8 month old that isn’t breathing while the parents are screaming in terror or agony is terrifying. We are scared that the countless hours we have poured into training won’t be enough. Terrified that no matter how hard we try, we might not be fast enough, strong enough, or smart enough. However in this fear, and the situations we are in, we need to always sure to remember this isn’t an “I need to fix this,” it is a “WE need to fix this.”

Two people can work together to solve a problem in a fire, two people can work outside the fire to solve a problem too…

We stand next to our brothers and sisters who give us strength. Our strengths may be few, or it may be many. In the end, we are as strong as our team because we do not fight alone. We need to remember that we don’t fight alone on calls, so why should we fight alone outside of the station or rigs? We fight to help strangers while battling our own battles after our shift, or sometimes even during. Struggling with the inevitable loss of a loved one with cancer, destroyed relationships, depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc… Don’t fight alone. It’s not weakness to ask for help, it shows intelligence. A willingness to reach out is a strength that takes a long while to muster, I can tell you that personally. Remember to lean on your brothers and sisters. Our structural ops tell us we need two in and two out. Use that outside the service too. Call on your buddies so that two of you can fight instead of just one. It can save your marriage, family, life, or whatever you might lose if you give in to these demons. Those demons that come from the fire and smoke, the street, or the back of the box won’t win. Because we are stronger than them. Some of us might need to unlock our potential, but we need to remember we are stronger.

More often than not, a hero’s most epic battle is the one you never see; it’s the battle that goes on within him or herself.

-Kevin Smith
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