The Quiet Professionals

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I recently viewed a video on Facebook that made me angry.  Now, I know it’s Facebook, I should let it go. I would love to, but it makes way too good of a teaching point to just “let it go”.

I don’t know where the video was shot, but it showed an on duty fire crew who were at the grocery store in between calls grabbing groceries, and an individual approach the crew, and start berating them that he was paying taxes for them to go on a grocery run. I was impressed with the fire department member who was visible in the video. Despite the torrent of abuse the “tax-payer” was weighing on the crew, he never wavered from being kind and professional. In all honesty, I don’t know that I could have remained the same myself. After one last torrent of abuse, the aggrieved “tax-payer” stated that he was going to file a complaint, and get them all in trouble.

I don’t know what the end result of the guy’s “complaint” was. I do know that the individual is sorely in need of some education. Fire crews, police members, EMS members, and even tow-truck operators and plow drivers go out in some of the nastiest weather ever dreamed up. They often work long hours, get little sleep, and out themselves in harm’s way. I know I’ve my fair share of 18+ hour days while I worked on the ambulance. Even still I was told by some that I was lucky to be able to sleep at work.

Yes, I was lucky to get dragged out of bed at 5am to respond to a man down call, and be the one to tell the grieving family member that there was nothing that we could do. Yes, I was lucky to get dragged out of bed at midnight, to respond to a suicide with a gun, and then return to quarters and try to get back to sleep, with that image in my mind.

That’s the kicker. People see any first-responders out and about when not actively on a call, and wonder why they pay taxes, not realizing that the responder may be grabbing some food in between calls. People get pulled over by a cop who has an over the top reaction  to them speeding in a play ground zone, and start getting in the cops face because “I wasn’t speeding that much”, not for an instant even considering that the officer may have been on-scene at a fatality in a school zone, where someone else who “wasn’t speeding that much” hit and killed a child.

First responders are a different breed. They can take the abuse, and still proceed to the next call, and do a job that makes a difference in people’s lives. The thing is, they shouldn’t have to take the abuse. People need to stop and think. First responders of all types deal with people when they are having the worst day of their lives. They don’t need to deal with idiots too.

Bottom line is simple. Don’t want to get a ticket or deal with an “asshole cop”? Don’t break the law.  See a group of fire fighters grabbing groceries in between runs? Ask them how there day is going.

Just because first responders will take the abuse, doesn’t mean they should have to. First responders of ALL types are human too, and they are humans that often times see the worst in humanity. Don’t compound the problem. Maybe be a human towards these quiet professionals that put themselves on the line for others.

To the crew who handled the jack-ass with calm and grace, my hat goes off to you. You guys are a stellar example of professionalism that everyone in emergency services needs to strive for. Thank you,


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