As the sister of an EMT/ Firefighter this tragedy hits so close to home. Last summer I visited my parents in the States, having lived in the UK I’ve never seen my brother in action and yet I watched as my baby brother changed in front of my eyes and rushed out the door on a call. The first time it happened I started crying and asking my mom ‘How do you stand this?’ and she said ‘Because this is who he is’. That night was the first of many where I held vigil until the early hours of the morning waiting for him to come home.
I’ve seen him come home, casually explain what happened, and go to sleep leaving me to sit there with the knowledge that my baby brother, the one I remember holding in my arms yesterday, wants no thanks for the lives he saves. I have been in the car next to him, watched him pull over, jump out, and approach an accident only to start treating a perfect stranger until the EMTs on call could get there. I’ve held him close with my cheek on his head as he wept for a friend whose life slipped away under his hands. How do you tell an EMT ‘you tried your best?’ There are no words and in the end I can only offer silence and my shoulder because I don’t know what else to do. I have held his big hands in my own and wondered at the thought of how these rough hands could be so gentle, these same hands that have brought life into this world and have been the last thing for others to cling to safe in the knowledge that they don’t go into the dark alone.
I know he loves this job, he was meant to be the first one in the building, the calm in the midst of another persons worst day, a pillar of strength when everything else around him is threatening to crumble. Just like these brave men and women who have been lost to us, they passed loving their job. They heard the call and answered.
I always want to ask my brother why? Why do you put yourself in danger for other people you don’t know, why cant you just be safe? Why do I have to worry about you? Then I see the look in his eyes and realize its because this is who he is. He hears the calling and devotes his life and every fiber in his body to answering.