by Ray McCormack
“Everybody loves being a firefighter.” That is the one universal statement that stands up over time. It doesn’t matter if you came on during the legacy years or modern times, the quote is unwavering. While that’s great for the fire service and gives us common ground, everything after that is up for grabs, even grabs.
You see not everyone believes in grabs. Some don’t feel they can happen due to a variety of reasons, such as response times, smoke intensity, staffing shortages, and rescuer risk. Some of those factors we control and some we don’t. I can easily understand the items out of my control and how certain realities restrict making a grab. What I find disquieting is the almost knee jerk refusal to put one’s self out there on the internet never mind the fireground.
Firefighters are public defenders who try to save people. If given the opportunity to make a grab would you do it? Many raise their internet voices up in a resounding, “No thanks.” Posts regarding lives of less value then their own, is that what we do now judge who gets saved and who doesn’t based on whim? Of course they give reasons; one has to supply some reasons for opting out on saving lives. The litany of reasons can sound technically impressive but it’s missing a big one, fear.
My question is can you be that smug and still not cite fear as a reason? It’s alright to be fearful – that’s why It’s a rescue, because it could go south. There are many rescues that have worked, and failed too. They couldn’t get out with their charge, a rope snaps, things changed and deteriorated. We honor them for their love, not of the job, but for the victim.
It is not easy to make a grab. It’s a test and it is a test you want to pass. For those that wish to opt out, there is comfort, at least over the internet, stating the virtues of their decisions. We want firefighters that understand risk. We want firefighters that recognize their capabilities too. We see many people who get into horrific accidents and we work to free them with little protest. We don’t hear much regarding opting out of that type of life saving and that’s probably because we don’t feel threatened by that environment. Well, many firefighters feel the same way about the fireground – comfortable. How you get to that comfort level is up to you, but once you get there being in tune with what others need should come easier to you.
It’s best to remain positive especially as a firefighter. When we respond. we should be thinking we can force any door, stretch any line, put out any fire and rescue those trapped. If you’re on a different path, stop short changing yourself. You won’t always win, but having inaction as your mantra is not helping anyone. It’s simple if you can get it done, then do it! Building a reserve of excuses doesn’t save lives, actions do that. Getting involved in something bigger than yourself takes a mindset, if you’re all about reasons why your efforts would be fruitless, you are the one who needs mercy.