The first words in my book, Responding are from Winston Churchill:
"Never in the history of human conflict has so much been owed so many, by so few."
I wrote the book mostly on my daughter's old Gateway laptop between runs, sometimes at the ER loading docks while my partner finished getting supplies and putting the truck back in order. More often, I wrote in my office back at the Allen's Avenue Fire Station after a call, in the dead of night while the rest of the crew rested in the dorm. During the writing of the book, Providence ran with five ALS units, each doing a little over 5000 runs a year. We now have six, all doing between 6 and 7000 runs a year.
I was the senior person on our group which consisted of five crews of EMT's, all of us part of the Fire Department, and trained and equipped as firefighters but serving on what we call "The Rescue Division." I can't think of a better word to describe us, Division is exactly what went on. The folks assigned to "The Fire Side," looked down on us, the general idea that we were afraid of fire being the norm.
Every member of the department was proud that we were among the busiest Fire Departments in the country, and would never hesitate to tell anybody who asked how busy we were. That 10 people out of a working group of ninety-four did 80% of the calls, and those ten people were somehow considered "less than" seemed to elude the firefighters.
I spent ten years the fire side, and loved every minute of it. The firefighters I know are great people. But it is the people on the fringe, The Rescue Division, with whom I have spent most of the last 12 working years with, that I call my friends.
That quote from Churchill would run through my mind often, and sometimes that alone got me through the sleepless hours and endless barrage of calls. I was seldom bitter because of it, and looked upon the sleeping firefighters not with disdain, knowing that their call volume was more in line with reality, rather with a sense of pride for what we did, because what we did, and do is something to be proud of.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…The Rescue Division of the Providence Fire Department!
I'll be at Books on the Square in Providence tonight at 7:00, talking about Responding, Rescuing Providence and what comes next. Hope to see you there!
Click on the book for details!