In the wake of the two recent VA LODD’s I have been thinking a lot about dying in the line of duty. Not dwelling on it or being fearful, but seriously trying to perform some self-reflection and think about the impact these events have on us all.
Every firefighter death is tragic, not all are necessary, but all are tragic. Not to diminish any firefighters death but it seems the ones that are close to home affect me more. I learn attempt to learn something from every LODD but for whatever reason these 2 LODD’s have really got me thinking.
First and foremost I do not have a death wish, I do not fear it, and realize that one day my number will be called either on the job, or off. I also realize that I signed up to put my life in harm’s way if there is a chance to save another. It is something that anyone on the job has done 100 times over. Like most I have had some close calls, but always seem to try to take the lesson from it and not to dwell on it in fear of losing the edge it takes to do the job.
There are two big problems in my eyes with firefighters and LODD’s. The first is denile. A lot of us are in denile that anything like this could ever happen to us. It is either ego driven (I have been doing this long enough there is nothing I can’t do), or complacency driven (We do not go to fires anymore kid). It is not a coincidence that these two attitudes also typically influence the persons desire to participate in training (fire or physical training). The second problem is failure to realize that our actions affect others. Maybe it is ego, selfishness, or ignorance but what ever the case far to often we only think about our actions affecting us, seldom do we examine the impact our death or serious injury will have on our department, shift, family, friends, or children. If we sat down and thought about his more often we may be more inclined to take steps to prevent LODD’s of all types.
I have been thinking about this ever since the death of Joshua Wiessman, and it has been magnified since the death of Zach Withacre. I can especially relate to Zach’s death as my brother, father and I are all in the fires service and at one time volunteered together, and worked in the same career department together. I have lost count the amount of times one, both, or all three of us were on the same rig together, or at the same fire together. As per usual neither of us really though about the impact one or all of our deaths would have had on our family, and that is not right, or respectful to the ones who sacrifice a lot so that we can do this job.
The bottom line is our actions affect others. I have to be on top of my game at all times not just for me or the citizens, but for my shift, and my family. If I am not at the top of my game then I run the risk of hurting them in a far worse way than physical pain. If you do not belive me, then take a look at the video below. I’m sure most of you have seen it, but it will put in your face how much your actions impact others more than words ever can.
As for me the final conclusion of my thoughts, and feelings has led me to this. I am more motivated than ever to train every day, learn as much as I can about this job, workout so that I can perform to my highest ability at all times, and do my best no matter the haters to ensure that everyone goes home, and spread the message of good firefighting tactics, operations, and training. Not for me, not for the personal satisfaction (not that I ever did any of this for that anyway) but for you, them, and they. I want to be the best I can be for my family, your family, the citizens, my shift mates, and anyone else that is effected by my actions. The only way to do this is to train your mind, and body like you are getting ready for a fight, because you are fighting for the life of those around you and yourself. Do not go in to your fight unready. I will be ready, and if I do not survive my fight, hopefully everyone will know that I was as prepared as I could be, for it.
I do not think I am going to be able to make it to the funeral for Alexandria Fire Department Paramedic Joshua Wiseman, but that does not mean you should not go! If you can not go at least make a donation to his memorial fund
Joshua A. Weissman Memorial Fund c/o Alexandria Firefighters, Inc – IAFF Local 2141 4600 Duke Street, Suite 429 Alexandria, VA 22304
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!