I didn’t read the commentary that follows the article about the Providence Firefighter who is suing the city for millions. I didn’t have to, because I already know what is there. The same things that are there every time the words “disability” and “firefighter” are mentioned in the same sentence.
You would think that I would be over the public’s disregard for firefighters and their disabilities by now. You would think that I would laugh off the innuendos that I endure at the holiday parties, the little jabs at the cookouts, the sarcasm at the gym.
I don’t laugh it off. I don’t say anything. I write things here that help clear my mind, but the people who read this blog are the people who already understand. You are the people that know a firefighter, or are a firefighter, or are married to one, or have a parent, son, daughter or cousin who is one.
Firefighters get hurt. They get hurt badly. Its a long career, and a lot happens. I’ve been injured more times that I can remember, and healed, and got back to work. Until the last time when I didn’t. But that took twenty-three years. During that time I have carried thousands – that’s right, thousands of people out of their homes, down narrow stairways, over snow and ice, lifting and bending and reaching and over and over. I’ve pulled people out of destroyed automobiles on busy highways in the middle of the night, crawled through broken glass and blood to do so, twisted myself in every angle imaginable to get to a dying person, and covered us with sheets so the flying glass and metal did no further harm.
I’ve walked over broken glass and twisted metal and crossed four lanes of travel so that I could poke my head into a tiny opening in an over turned car and feel for a pulse on a kid the same age as my daughter, and couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl until I pulled a gold chain imbedded in her severed flesh and read the bloody word on her charm; Tiffany.
I’ve heard the screams of a family of five as they died behind a barricaded door the week before Christmas, and gave everything I had trying to help knock down the flames so we could get to them before the screaming stopped.
Yeah, we get hurt. And the paper runs a little story, and mentions somewhere that “two firefighters suffered minor injuries,” and nobody cares, and nobody comments, and we heal and get back to work.
Until we can’t.
And then the chorus chimes in.