Their problem not mine: Are you sure of that?
The more serious issue in unfortunate events is when we as firefighters take ownership of the problem. The times in my life where I have been at my lowest have been when I have taken ownership of tragic events. An example of this would be the loss of a friend due to suicide. I experienced feelings of “If I had only…” and then began to blame myself.
The harsh reality of life is that “we didn’t start the fire, load the gun, or cause the tragedy”. We leave the situation better than we found it. It is often difficult when the world views you as the answer to their problems and they hand you a five week old child that you cannot resuscitate. I will speak for myself, though I believe its commonplace in the fire service, that we often make ourselves accountable for others actions. A child dies, a drunk driver kills a teen in a wrong way accident, a teenager is shot in killed in a drive by accident, an infant you find unresponsive doesn’t make it and you have tell the parents. All of these are but a few examples of incidents that began without our involvement but we were involved in their last moments. They leave marks on our souls and often cause us to cope or self-medicate in unhealthy ways.
As I learn and grow with each passing day I have come to an understanding with tragedy. Tragedy affects everyone from our leaders, celebrities, middle-class, and the poor. As a firefighter we come to know tragedy from a surgical perspective. We size it up, break it down, manage its results, and learn from it. We deal with it very nonchalantly until it reaches into our heart or personal lives. The great challenge that firefighters face is to be deeply immersed in the painful circumstances of others lives and to come out unscathed by it. The prayer I often pray is “God give me a heart big enough to hurt with them but don’t let me absorb their pain and inflict upon others”.
It is my prayer for all firefighters that they come to know the hope of Jesus Christ. For when He lives in your heart, you are able to hurt with the world and not be destroyed by it.