Generations

The fire started in the kitchen, he told me, his mother and aunt had been drinking, and forgot about the pan of oil on the stovetop. It ignited, then before they could put it out the stove caught fire. It was an oil stove, he said, before they had natural gas. He was in the attic bedroom with his brother when he smelled the smoke, and heard the screams from downstairs.

The fire spread quickly, the entire first floor went up, then the flames came after him and his brother. He was terrified, and thought he would die. His brother went to a window, and stood on the ledge as the fire trucks approached, but he couldn't wait, and he jumped. A branch from a tree punctured his side, and he died shortly after hitting the ground. He waited, a six year old boy, alone in an attic, fire approaching, heat intolerable, smoke choking him, but he waited, and the firemen came, and picked him up, and covered him best they could and carried him out of the house.

We sat in silence for a moment then, and I looked again at his leg, his entire calf and shin covered with scars from the skin grafts. The scars went all the way up he told me, but those firemen saved his life, and would have saved his brother, too, if he had waited.

"You fellas do a heck of a job" he said, as I checked the flow of the IV, and rechecked his vitals. He's in his sixties now, has had four heart attacks, lives with a defibrillator implanted in his chest, and deformed legs, and a lost brother in 1954.

The sixty-something year old man on my stretcher still had the sparkle of the six year old kid whose life was forever marked all those years ago as he told me his story, and let another generation of Providence Firefighters do their job.

I closed my eyes for a moment, and pictured the old Jakes as they must have looked back then, and realized they were likely younger than me when they saved my patients life the first time. But to Albert it doesn't really matter, because when he needs us, we are there.

 

 

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Michael Morse

JEMS Talk: Google Hangout

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Comments
greg
The Heart of a Stranger
"Thanks Mike. I just walked my kids to the school bus. We stood in the cold for 10 minutes. Then I had to drive to the school because my son forgot his shoes. When he called and said, "Dad can you bring my shoes to school?" I had to ask which pair from the pile…
2014-11-21 16:03:20
Michael Morse
I know
Thanks Brian, your comment came at the perfect time, I'm in a bit a a creative slump, was wondering if anybody was getting anything from these posts, I guess they are! Thank you for reading.
2014-11-21 13:26:34
Brian McPherson
I know
I am a Paramedic and my wife is from Burrillville RI, and we live outside of Charlottesville, VA. I really enjoy reading your column and I am glad that someone is actually posting the stories, both good and bad about our profession. Next time I am in RI I would love to come by and…
2014-11-21 01:31:59
chiefbobr
The Truth
What an exceptional article written by a man who has truly 'been there' and that has but one purpose in mind: to herp his brothers and sisters deal with the demons that some of them are wrestling with. Please, if you are wrestling with problems of addiction, stress, or personal strife, pick up a telephone…
2014-11-18 05:31:27
Inovateps.co.za
A REAL Emergency!
I'm amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog that's equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy I found this during my hunt for something relating…
2014-11-14 00:05:19

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