Through the darkness: Why do we not call for help?
The call goes out for a possible structure fire with people trapped. It’s three in the morning and the tones jolt your tired body out of bed. You quickly move from R.E.M to R.P.D. onto a fully staffed engine company with a truck company following. As you arrive, you find a single story light weight construction residential home with fire and smoke visible from the Alpha side. You give your size-up and as a family man you notice the bicycles laid in the driveway and a playground in the back yard.
The trained firefighter mindset kicks in but in the back of your mind you can’t help but think of your family at home. As you quickly perform your 360, your crew is stretching a line to the door, and you can tell by reading the smoke the fire is coming from the A/B side most likely a kitchen.
The first due Battalion Chief arrives, receives your report, and assumes command. You then quickly join up with your crew as they make the stretch through the front door and then it happens. A flashover occurs and the structure partially collapses. As the officer, your first priority is the well being of your crew. You locate one of the firefighters but one is lost.
Stop for a moment and consider this question:
If you were the officer would you call a MAY-DAY?
This may seem like an obvious question with an obvious answer but think about it this way:
How many firefighters have you known or heard about that have had significant problems in their life but never called for help?
And we wonder why we push too far and end up calling the MAY DAY when it’s too late…
Let us go back to our scenario:
The lost firefighter is unharmed but disoriented. He is trying to find the attack line to follow it back to safety. The blow of the collapse stunned him and turned him in the direction of the fire. As he crawls further toward the fire his mind is racing. He is angry, he can’t believe this is happening to him and his anger is causing him to lose control. All of those years of training and now it has happened to him. He is faced with the decision:
Do I keep trying to find my way out or do I call the MAY-DAY and admit I am lost?
His pride and anger is slowly eroding his situational awareness as his low air alarm activates which brings him back to reality. He finds a wall only to be pinned down by another collapse which prevents him from reaching his radio. He begins to think of his family, his life, and all of the things he wished he had said and done. No amount of skip breathing can prevent what is about to happen. He is running out of air and has no way out.
All the while, unaware to him, a massive rescue effort is underway. The company officer immediately transmitted a MAY-DAY and was able to meet up with the Rapid Intervention Crew. They were prepared. They had been listening to the radio traffic, had performed a 360 of the structure, and were aware of what was going on at the time. They quickly locate the collapse and begin searching.
The lone firefighter takes his last breath of air and holds in as the mask sucks to his face. In his mind he knows that taking off his mask is a death sentence but the need for air overpowers this thought. He grabs his regulator and is about to rip it off when another hand grabs him. He says “Hold on brother, don’t give up! Just give us another 30 seconds and we will have you some air.”
The story ends with the lost firefighter saved and the Rapid Intervention Crew alive and well. As firefighters, we would hope that every MAY-DAY would result in a successful rescue. Sadly, in fires and in our lives some of us will be lost.
Let us consider each part of this scenario as one who has become lost in the ‘fires of life’:
A sudden and unexpected calamity occurs in your life and you rush in to prevent any further harm without thought of a back-up plan. Then the situation takes a turn for the worse and the world “collapses” around you. In this moment, you feel “pinned down” by the weight of this problem. Your thoughts turn to anger and your pride prevents you from calling for help. The situation seems hopeless, every effort to save yourself only worsens the problem.
Anxiety begins to weigh heavy upon your heart. The circumstances have paralyzed you and you fall upon your knees as you cry out in desperation to God:
“Please save me!”
Take a moment and think about this:
What if someone knew that in the future you would need to be rescued?
What if they knew that no matter how many people tried to save you that you still would refuse their help?
What if they knew that the only way to save you was to give up their own life for yours?
Even though at that moment, you would have never asked for their help or admitted your need for their help, this person still
chose to give up their life for you.
Why would anyone do such a thing?
Because He loves you more than you could ever imagine.
God demonstrated His great love in this:
“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The imagery is powerful, realistic, and it is true. God chose to save us before we asked. He answered the call of our heart that we refused to make.
Many of us, including myself, only chose to call out in a moment of desperation. This is where many of us meet God. When there is no one else to save us, no back-up plan, no emergency fund, and no one to call.
The plan from the very beginning was to save us all. As a firefighter, you understand the plan of redemption even if you aren’t a Christian.
One who calls for help is saved by another that he or she has never met, and never can repay what has been done for them.
Each and every moment is a gift. God has made a way home, a personal rescue plan, just for you. His name is Jesus Christ. He will reach through your darkness, give you the breath of life, and bring you through the fire into the safety of His arms.
It is our prayer that you would come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. For He has already rescued you.