When I first came out of the academy I was ready. I wanted to kick ASS and take names. I was a brand new EMT and firefighter. Then, when I driving to work that first day I was a bit scared… What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I got scared and forgot what I was supposed to do. What if my actions got somebody hurt?
Yup, not so ready.
I sat in my car for awhile thinking about it before going in. Met the guys. Met the boss who said “Just jump on and stay close if we get anything”. That’s it? Really? What the heck?
Within the hour we were on our way to our first call. “Unknown medical” The senior man told me it was probably a drunk guy. He was wrong, it was a toddler in respiratory arrest, and looking more than a little blue. I was horrified, the child was the same age as my own child. The firefighter who thought it was a drunk call says “I hope the ambulance gets here quick” and then walks away and does nothing. The boss did the right thing; pulled out the hot dog and told me vent the little guy.
When we got back to the firehouse I told the boss I wanted to go home. I wasn’t meant for this, I didn’t know what I was doing etc… He told me “You see the guy at the table bragging about what we did? If you ever start acting like that it’ll be time for you to leave. As long as you think about what you’re doing, and do SOMETHING you’ll be just fine”
I didn’t understand what he was talking about then, but over the course of the next few years I realized what he meant. Many people talk a good game. Some guys tell stories all day and nothing else. Some guys question every move they make. But the bottom line is this: Firefighters are people of action, when it’s time to act, ACT.