I get frustrated when the discussion boards lack discussion; meaningful discussion, that is. Oh; there is the same old chatter from the squirrels, but the good information that is coming out in a host of blogs…if they are getting read, they certainly aren’t being discussed to any great degree.
Are we THAT busy in our lives that we can’t take a moment and check in to see what’s shakin’ in our little world of the fire service? Then, if we have a few minutes but don’t take the time, are we disconnected or disinterested?
In case you didn’t know, the winds of discontent are blowing…or sucking, depending on your perspective.
As I learned from listening to a recent podcast on www.firefighternetcast.com, our people in fire/EMS are not all that happy and in some cases are getting burnt out and burn out leads to GETTING out.
We cannot afford to let that happen, so what do we do?
Bear with me as I share my thoughts with you. Maybe you should go and get that beverage now.
Where is it written that WE must shoulder the weight of the world just because we want to help our communities in their times of need?
Who says that we have to internalize and otherwise hide/mask all of the ugly junk that we see that defies any plausible explanation or description?
Why do we continue to believe that, if we don’t do it, no one else will? Can’t you feel the sheer desperation of having no alternatives that effectively forces someone to commit?
Continue Reading Time to Get Out of the Service
And finally; why do we watch our brothers and sisters succumb to the pressures of giving our best efforts, failing to change the outcome and believing that it’s failure nonetheless?
Well, I am here to tell you that you lost touch with reality on the day that you thought your fire certifications and EMT licenses was going to fix everything!
We continue to set the bar high which, in and of itself is a good thing, but when we don’t have a net to catch the ones who barely miss reaching the bar, we set ourselves up to fail. We must keep everyone engaged, improve our leadership, training and expand the knowledge base in everyone who chooses to be a firefighter/EMT.
Besides; what are we really measuring our success against anyway?
From cheating death?
From cheating all of those external forces that we cannot control, but manage to survive in while it kills others and taking our guilt from it with us?
And along with that guilt, a sense of failure that washes over us with such pervasive force that we forget our love for what we do?
We become so emotionally invested with every, single incident-we become so singular of purpose-that we let the outcome define us going forward. Each time a building falls or a patient dies, a little bit more of our desire to do the job leaves us until we have no more desire to do it.
We should not measure ourselves and what we do by the outcome of one incident. Instead, we should look at incidents-one by one-as lessons learned, pay compliments to those involved, share a light moment and get ready for the next one, because, in the end; it is the volume of work and we are adding the chapters; some bad, but many that are good or even great.
We hear a lot about pain thresholds. How much pain can we take before it becomes too much?
And though it largely refers to physical pain, I have to believe that the same holds true for mental pain.
I know someone who used a staple gun to pierce their ear and laughed about it as they did it, but when they saw the blood, they immediately passed out!
On the other side, I have friends who will go to the emergency room if they get a bug in their eye, but can deal with the most complex, multi-agency response incidents that I have seen. So, one type of pain threshold isn’t necessarily indicative of the other.
As we know, firefighters need both mental and physical toughness to weather the beatings that we will take from an incident. We have to take something positive from EVERY incident. There ARE positives even if there is a negative outcome and we have to talk it to that point where we all agree that, had we not been there, the situation would have been worse, regardless of the outcome.
Veteran firefighters hold the secrets to their longevity of service. They could be invaluable to the ones who are struggling with the emotional aspects of a call. Veterans could take the broken pieces of someone’s spirit and help to put it back together, if only they were asked.
See; veterans know the protocol. Veterans won’t invite themselves to the party. Veterans don’t take shots at those who have just seen grotesquely mutilated metal and flesh. They remember their first few times and they know all too well that you have to process it. It’s something that you don’t joke about…until you have had time to get better, that is.
Veterans play a pivotal role in helping others process what they do, see and hear at an incident and especially if it is having a negative impact. Were it not for the veterans, our turnover rate in the fire service would be 100 percent plus. They remind us that each of us are uniquely different, but with similar stories and it’s the telling of those stories to each other that gets us back to our love for what we do!
I got by because I treated calls as if they fell somewhere between “I haven’t seen the worst one yet” to “I have seen worse”.
Roll that one around for a bit, but it makes perfect sense to me. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum, so every call will fit somewhere between them. That is how I managed to truly love every minute of my 22 active years of running calls. I have a couple of scrapbooks that I visit from time to time and I know that many of you have your scrapbooks in the memories of your minds.
Today, I have plenty to be concerned with. I am still active in making sure that our fire department is ready for emergencies.
Though I am dismayed by some of what I am reading about scumbags in the fire service, I take something positive away EVERY day; whether it is a story of a good save, a baby born on the way to the hospital, a near miss with a happy ending, a story on a friend’s promotion, an article from a friend’s keynote address, or a book written by an old friend from his Illinois days. That’s right; Illinois claims Chief Rick Lasky.
People in the service like Rick, Tiger, Dave, Gonzo, Rhett, John, Mick, Ted, Jason, Chris, Mike, Steve, CJ and many others help to keep my compass needle pointing in the right direction.
I will offer you this piece of advice: you will miss opportunities if the only times that you dream is when you sleep.
Take something positive from the job and end the day with good thoughts.
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