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I wish you could see the sadness

Of a business man as his

livelihood goes up in flames

Or that family returning home,

Only too find their house and

Belongings damaged or lost for good.


I wish you could know what it is

Like too search a burning

Bedroom for trapped children,

Flames rolling above your head,

Your palms and knees burning as you crawl,

The floor sagging under your weight

As the kitchen below you burn.


I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror

At 3 in the morning as I check her husband

Of 40 years for a pulse and find none.

I start CPR anyway,

Hoping to bring him back,

Knowing intuitively it is too late.

But wanting his wife and family

To know everything possible

Was done too try too save his life.

I wish you knew the unique

Smell of burning insulation,

The taste of soot-filled mucus,

The feeling of intense heat

Through your turnout gear,

The sound of flames crackling,

The eeriness of being able to see

Absolutely nothing in dense smoke-sensations

That I've become too familiar with.

I wish you could understand how it feels

To go to work in the morning after

Having spent most of the night,

Hot and soaking wet at a multiple alarm fire.

I wish you could read my mind as

I respond to a building fire

"Is this a false alarm or a working fire?

How is the building constructed?

What hazards await me?

Is anyone trapped?"

Or to an EMS call,

"What is wrong with the patient?

Is it minor or life threatening?

Is the caller really in distress?

Or is he waiting for us with a 2x4 or a gun?"

I wish you could be in the emergency room as a

Doctor pronounces dead the

Beautiful five-year old girl that I have

Been trying too save during the

Past 25 minutes. Who will never go on her

first date or say the words, "I love you Mommy" again.

I wish you could know the frustration I feel in

the cab of the engine or my

personal vehicle, the driver with his foot

pressing down hard on the pedal,

my arm tugging again and again at the air horn

chain, as you fail to yield

the right-of-way at an intersection or in traffic.

When you need us however,

your first comment upon our arrival will be,

"It took you forever to get here!"

I wish you could know my thoughts as I help

Extricate a girl of teenage

years from the remains of her automobile.

"What if this was my sister, my

girlfriend or a friend? What was her

parents reaction going to be when they

opened the door to find a police officer with

hat in hand?"

I wish you could know how it feels to walk

in the back door and greet my

parents and family, not having the heart to

tell them that I nearly did not

come back from the last call.

I wish you could feel the hurt as people

orally, and sometimes physically,

abuse us or belittle what I do, or as they

express their attitudes of "It

will never happen to me."

I wish you could realize the physical,

emotional and mental drain or missed

meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities,

in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen.

I wish you could know the brotherhood and

self-satisfaction of helping save

a life or preserving someone's property, or

eing able to be there in time of crisis,

or creating order from total chaos.

I wish you could understand what it feels

like to have a little boy tugging

at your arm and asking, "Is Mommy okay?"

Not even being able to look in his

eyes without tears from your own and not

knowing what to say. Or to have to

hold back a long time friend who watches his

buddy having rescue breathing

done on him as they take him away in the

ambulance. You know that all along he did

not have his seat belt on. A sensation that I

have become too familiar with.

Unless you have lived with this kind of

life, you will never truly

understand or appreciate who I am, we are,

or what our job really means to us...I wish you could though.

-Author unknown-



Last modified: December 05, 2003