No, not that but something much better.
We won, all of us, but you might not be aware, or you might be and just don’t understand what it is we won.
FDNY firefighter Robert Wiedmann walked out of the hospital today. Three months and four days after being burned in a Crown Heights fire he walked out under his own power. But here is the catch; we didn’t win in that Hallmark-style feel-good, cheesy “brotherhood” sense.
This isn’t a collective victory for everyone who likes to don the t-shirt and coattail; that kind will never understand, never fully realize and appreciate how much was done, years ago, to make sure firefighter Wiedmann went home.
This also isn’t a collective victory for the ‘egh’ crowd (lower case, so not to be confused with the official, respectable “EGH” effort and supporters) who are quick to anonymously cite chapter and verse of every single fireground “thou shalt not” while failing to remove the plank from their own eye.
This is a victory for those of us who recognize that this is not a game, not a hobby, not a calling but a profession. A profession where regardless of whether or not you get paid for your service, you understand the great responsibility of shaping your fire department through probably the only two constant influences found in any fire department in this country, education and personal responsibility.
When you share his story on Facebook, or talk it up among your friends, replay that video of Wiedmann in that window full of flame, think about a few things before you get too boastful.
Where would we be if someone didn’t decide we need better PPE?
Where would we be if someone didn’t study thermal burn injuries?
Where would we be if someone wasn’t studying ventilation and flow paths to offer us new ways to attack a fire better, safer?
Where would we be if there weren’t people out there testing our PPE and SCBA to find and identify their points of failure?
Where would we be if the guy riding with us didn’t really care about being better, working smarter, mentoring the younger guy?
Now think about this; there are people out there, doing these very things. When they can be successful and present us new tactics, better gear and a respectable attitude it is our job to take personal responsibility of their gifts and use them as best as we can.
When we do that, and have the misfortune of facing what Firefighter Wiedmann faced, we can win.
It makes that "doin' whatever it takes" dress-wearing mentality even more foolish, doesn't it?
Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the FireEMSBlogs.com network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.
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