Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Are We Ready???

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Well, are we? Are we, America's first responders, ready to face a multi-faceted terrorist attack as occurred in Brussels today? Are we ready for an attack like we experienced in Oklahoma City? Are we ready for an attack of the 9|11 ilk? How is the Lord's name do we even attempt to answer any of these questions? As I write this, NBC News is stating that authorities are warning that today's attacks are just the first of a coming wave of terrorist acts against the civilized world.

Personally, I'm able to bring an even closer experience, from the school year I spent in Israel in 1975-1976, when Arab terrorists began their assault on innocent citizens in the City of Jerusalem and other areas. Not only that, while volunteering on the Israeli version of "Neighborhood Watch," my partner and I actually came across suspects waiting to possibly attack the King David Hotel. We reported their vehicle to the Border Police and were involved in a chase. They got away. That time.

However, to make a significant change, we must change the pronoun from "we" to "us." This is not a Belgian problem! It is not an Israeli problem! It is not even a U.S. problem! This terrorist group is a threat to every civilized country in the world. Anyone, no matter your citizenship, your faith or the color of your skin, is at risk. Your safety is at risk, your thought processes are at risk, everything that you believe in is at risk.

President Reagan once made an interesting comment to both the Russian Premier and the United Nations. He postulated that if our planet was attacked by some malevolent alien force, how we would quickly put aside all our differences and unite to fight the enemy to save the human race. (Of course, that was LONG before the movie, "Independence Day!")

But think of what his message means. Is that not similar to what is happening to us now. Are we not under attack by an outside group who believe they have the right to dictate the law of every land, as they see it and death to all those who disagree?

It is time that we face the truth of what is happening in the civilized world. We must come together to preserve the choices we are privileged to enjoy, that we can agree to disagree and use no weapon greater than words of disagreement. For if we do not, we will be looking over our shoulders, every day, every where we go. Is that what are lives should be about?


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do You Get It Now?

If you subscribe to any of the fire service news services, e.g. Firehouse.com, Fire Engineering, etc., the news hit us across the face this morning. The State of Wisconsin lost another firefighter to cancer. But not just any firefighter. Firefighter/Paramedic Marcia Rosecky was the first female firefighter in the State of Wisconsin. And her death has been judged as Line of Duty, due to the fact that her cancer was a direct result of her work and exposure during her firefighting service.

I might venture now, almost fifteen years after 9|11, many of us either know a firefighter who has contracted a line-of-duty cancer or know of someone who has. "Back in the day," in the relative short period of eight years I was active, we had virtually never heard the words, "firefighter" and "cancer" in the same sentence. And those of us who also were in EMS work had not yet heard the word, "AIDS," either. But we sure as shit know it now!

If you've had some significant time in the fire service, think back to some of the crap you've dealt with. Think of all the stuff on your PPE. Think of all the times you took your rehab break and went back inside to help with overhaul, no mask, no turnout coat. You're pulling those walls and ceilings and all the toxins and other shit that have been carbonized, start falling on top of you or is inhaled by you. What is it doing inside you right now? Ever bother to wonder?

Some of the best voices in the fire service today have called on all departments, career, volunteer, combo and on-call, to begin a prophylactic program to help shield firefighters from this type of exposure. Additionally, each of us has a responsibility to make sure all of our PPE is properly and thoroughly cleaned at regular intervals.

Today, March 3, 2016, we begin the third month of the first quarter of 2016. Many people are in the habit of making resolutions for the new year. Here we are, over two months in and what have you done to take better care of yourself?

Started an exercise regimen? ("Naw, I get enough exercise on the job!)
Started a weight loss program? (What? And give up the great food that we cook in the barn?)
Made an appointment with your personal physician or the fire surgeon for a physical or an evaluation of vitals and blood? ("I don't have time to go see a doctor. I got 2 jobs beside the 'Job, three kids and a wife!")

There are probably another half dozen or more questions we could and should ask ourselves. And most of us will have the same excuses to answer those questions, as well.

We're all slow to adapt to change. It's in our human make-up. But that doesn't mean we can't change. Take a look around you. See your buddies in the firehouse, see your family and other loved ones. What will you tell them if you're diagnosed with some form of job-related cancer? "I coulda, woulda, shouda?"

Think about it. Make the FFHI2016 (The Firefighters' Health Initiative 2016) a vital part of your life.