Over the course of the last year there has been a resounding chorus of thanks to First Responders. Every day, these self-less souls suit up and show up. Within my own circle of friends are members of the medical community who literally take their lives in their hands every day they go to work. It’s hard not to feel a bit humbled by the courage it takes to work in today’s uncertain world.
My first face-to-face encounter with First Responders was just over a decade ago. In November of 2010 fate saw fit that most of the First Responders from our Main Street Fire Station and I would meet. I was struck by a car a mere block away from the fire station. Main Street was closed down, an ambulance and ladder truck pulled out of the station, turned right and stopped a block away.
In addition to the crews from both vehicles, most all other First Responders on duty that day simply walked over to the accident scene. Their commitment to my well-being, their kindness, and their professionalism were inspiring. In the midst of the most catastrophic day of my life, they rendered aid, stabilized me, and transported me to a local trauma center.
The injury scorecard that day showed a couple of broken bones, lacerations from crashing through the windshield of the car that hit me, I was bruised in ways I never thought possible. There were torn ligaments and tendons. Lest I forget, I did sustain a significant traumatic brain injury.
Never one to take things for granted, I came away from that experience with a deep appreciation for First Responders. I was the first-hand recipient of their care, kindness, and compassion.
My injuries that day were life-changing, but they were not life-threatening.
Fast forward to November of 2020, and I had my second face-to-face experience with our local First Responders. Unlike my experience a decade ago, the Saturday after Thanksgiving was a bit different. This time, I can directly credit our First Responders for quite literally saving my life.
Like any human being with a heartbeat, I face challenges. Daily I live with a traumatic brain injury. But TBI is not my only chronic condition. Since 2007, I have also been living life as a diabetic. Like my TBI, being diabetic means being mindful of my health. All-in-all, I do well with it. An hour of daily cardio coupled with a substantial weight loss many years ago help keep me on track. A few years later, daily insulin became part of my life. I’ve done pretty well taking it all in stride.
But life seems to like to throw curveballs.
After several hours of yardwork, I trekked out to our front yard to string a few more holiday lights. That’s all I remember until I regained consciousness in our bedroom, a bedroom packed full of six First Responders and my wife Sarah. I had experienced my first-ever diabetic shock. Words will fall short of describing the surrealism of that day. I came to confused, unable to speak, and completely baffled as to how our bedroom became packed full of First Responders.
Unlike my experience a decade ago, this time all in attendance wore masks. Unlike the call made by a passer-by a decade ago, November’s life-saving 911 call was made by Sarah. Dispatch asked new questions, questions like, “Does anyone have a fever or COVID symptoms?” Our world has changed a lot in the last decade.
In the time since, I’ve tried to process the experience. Wrapping my mind around how close I was to not having another birthday is a hard thing to do.
But I keep going back to the First Responders. Not only do they continue to suit up and show up — and in many cases, save lives, but in today’s world they face a new unseen danger with every home they enter. They do so willingly, heeding the call to serve the greater good of humanity.
I may only be one person, but I would be remiss for not offering a heartfelt thank you to First Responders everywhere. I am alive today, and I am here today because of the selfless courage of others. Even a sincere thank you just doesn’t feel like enough.