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
CJ Ewell
Dropping the Armor
Please be evaluated for your depression. You may need medication, or counseling, or both. Depression left untreated may resolve inside of 2 years (natural history of the disease), but that's a really long time. It may not resolve at all, or may relapse. Counseling can give you the tools to manage your emotions in a…
2015-08-27 17:42:10
Andy O'Hara
Dropping the Armor
Unfortunately, it CAN last 20 years or more. This is why it's important for first responders to take advantage of periodic therapy both during and after their careers--to deal with all the "muck" that's building/built up. This is for active and retired responders to do whether they see themselves as "healthy" or not--it's too big…
2015-08-26 17:33:44
Bob Markin
Active Shooter Course
Someone struggling with the new active shooter doctrine?
2015-08-11 19:56:51
T.J. Jeznach
Things Nobody Told Me About EMS
I am a Volunteer FF and a Career EMT. I can say I find satisfaction in both jobs. You are right though... EMS changes us. Some for good, others for bad. I can say now, having been an EMT for 3 yrs (2 1/2 as a volunteer), I know my stuff. I have used my…
2015-08-10 12:50:37
lollipop
On top of the helmet
wow powerful thinking as always so glad I found you again and hope you are enjoying retirement xx
2015-08-09 22:17:16

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