I wish you could see the sadness of a businessman as his livelihood goes up in flames; or that of a family returning home to find their house and belonging damaged or destroyed.
I wish you could know what its like to search a burning bedroom for trapped children, flames over your head, your palms and knees burning as you crawl, the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen below burns.
I wish you could comprehend a wifes horror at 3 AM, as I check her husband of thirty years for a pulse and fine none. I start CPR anyway, hoping against all odds to bring him back, yet knowing intuitively it is to late, but want the wife and family to know that everything possible was done.
I wish you could smell the unique smell of burning insulation, the taste of soot filled with sweat and mucus, the intense heat through turnout gear, the sounds of crackling flames, and the eeriness of being able to see absolutely nothing in dense smoke. I hope you never know the sickening smell of burnt flesh. These are sensations I am all to familiar with.
I wish you could understand how it feels to go the work in the morning after spending most a cold January night, cold and soaking wet, with a crust of ice covering my gear at a multiple alarm blaze.
I wish you could read my mind as we respond to a call. Is it a prank false alarm, or a working fire? How is it constructed? Is anyone trapped? What hazards await us? If it is an EMS call, what is wrong with the patient, is it minor or life threatening? Is the caller in trouble, or are they waiting for us with a gun or two-by-four? Is it someone I know?
I wish you could feel the heartbreak I feel in the ER as the doctor pronounces dead the beautiful little five you old girl Ive tried so hard in the last 25 minutes to save. Shell never go on that first date, or say, "Mommy, I love you." again
I wish you could read my thoughts as I extricate a teenager from the mangled remains of an automobile. What if this was my son or daughter? What will the parents reaction when they open the door and find a policeman there, hat in hand?
I wish you could feel the frustration I feel in the cab of an engine, foot hard to the floor in the siren switch, arm tugging again and again on the air-horn lanyard as you fail to yield right-of-way at intersections and in traffic. Yet when you need us, the first comment upon our arrival is: "What took you so long?"
I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally, and sometimes physically, abuse me; belittle what I do; or express the attitude that it could never happen to me. I wish you could know the feeling of walking in the back door, greeting your family, and not having the heart to tell them you almost didnt come back from that last call.
I wish you could realize the physical, emotional, and mental drain of missed meals, lost sleep, and missed and forgone social activities and intimate moments; all of this in addition to the tragedy my eyes have seen.
I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life or preserving someones property; of being there in times of crisis, and creating order out of chaos.
Unless youve lived the life of a firefighter, youll never truly understand or appreciate who we are, or what the job means to us.
I wish..........I wish you could.