Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Buzz Article "Those Without Passion Need Not Apply" by Carissa Mason

It’s 3 a.m. and a voice echoes through the static of a scanner in a dark room.

“Standby for medical/fire.”

A few seconds later, a loud piercing tone pummels its way through hallways and shut bedroom doors into the ears of sleeping firemen and EMTs.

This sound is what they know as a desperate cry for help and hearts instantly begin to race. Chris Haworth, a Durant Fireman states, “When our alarms go off, someone is losing or has lost something very important to them.” To which Chase Condor quickly adds, “And we may be the only ones who can save it for them.”

To us, as civilians, the men and women who choose to follow a career path that leads them to EMS, Fire Departments, Police Departments and Highway Patrol are our heroes, our lifelines, and even our last hope. But when asked how they feel about being considered a hero, their response is much more meek and humble than their job description. Collin Gordon, a local Firefighter and Paramedic makes the point, “What if the trash man didn’t do what he is paid to do for us? Someone’s got to do it. This is just another job”, and he shrugs his shoulders.

However, they all agree on one thing in regards to their career of choice, whether it be firefighter, police officer, EMT, or highway patrol, “You can’t do this job if you don’t love it. The pay certainly doesn’t keep you coming back. It’s the love of the work you do that kicks you out of bed in the mornings.” John Vietta, another local fireman and EMT says, “Having someone run up to you in public and give you the biggest hug you’ve ever gotten because they recognized you as the one who helped save them or their family member is worth every penny you lack in salary.”

Sacrifices of all kinds, not just monetary, are made in these fields every day. On July 26th, Dan Lyday was at work at the firehouse. It was his normal shift day. However, it was also his granddaughter’s b-day and he was missing her birthday party. “When your work schedule is 24 hours long at a time, you’re bound to miss meals, holidays, family events, sleep.”

Despite these unpleasant and inconvenient sacrifices, when asked what his favorite part of the job is Terry Courtney, a 13 year paramedic, says “7 a.m. - when I come to work.”

“The job is different everyday”, adds Mindy Gerard. “Working at EMS means I may get to see or treat or deal with something I’ve never seen before. I love that.”

David McCutcheon, an Oklahoma State Trooper, says his favorite part of Highway Patrol is keeping the people in this county safe.

It is a rigorous job that requires someone to work 24 hours at a time or throughout an entire night when most others they know are tucked safely in their beds. Sure, there are days/nights when the tones and pagers are silent. No one needs help. No one needs saving. Those times are overshadowed by others that are filled non-stop with emergency calls. Jay Bergner, 36 year old EMT and firefighter who has been fighting fires since the age of 18 comments, “There are nights when we don’t sleep at all. That can be very dangerous, not only to us and our partner, but to a patient as well.”

The absolute toughest part of the job and what takes the most toll on them, they will all tell you unanimously, is dealing with death. Death of any kind is hard, but especially that of children and infants. John Vietta, a 6’4” 265 lb. self-proclaimed ‘teddy bear’, says of facing death: “It’s always hard. I’m a little soft around the edges and when I’ve dealt with something especially traumatic, you may very well see me sitting on the back of the truck crying after it’s all over.”

It is because of those trying times, the harsh realities hitting so close to home, the moments of sheer joy when a life is saved, the close calls, the tokens of gratitude from individuals who have been touched by these unsung hometown heroes that are what have molded these individuals into who they are today. Trooper Mike Green states simply, “I’ve learned compassion towards others.” While preparing to wash his patrol car one evening before his shift began, an elderly man approached Trooper Green with $3 worth of quarters and said, “Here’s a little token of my appreciation for the work you do. Thank you.” And the gentleman hobbled away. It was a small gesture, but appreciated immensely by the recipient. “It’s those little moments of surprise that make my job great!”

Don’t be fooled if you ever walk into the Fire Station or EMS building here in town and see the crew watching television, or when you see a group of officers or troopers having dinner and cutting up together. They’re not on break for the ump-teenth time. That may have been the only time they’ve been able to sit down all day. Their pagers are always beeping. Their radios are always turned on and tuned in to the quiet static that is their constant reminder that someone is always in need of his or her expertise and is relying on them to be ready and waiting for our emergency calls.


Rachel said...

Hey Carissa,
I always enjoy your posts and think you are a very talented writer. I especially enjoyed this one as it explained some of your excitement over your future plans. Great job.

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