What does it mean to be a responder?
Some would say strength, both body and mind. Others would argue that you need to have compassion, and love for your fellow man. I have heard people say that it must take a strong stomach to do what we do. I suppose if you were to compile a list of qualities that make us who we are, it would be 10 page list.
What it boils down to, for me is these main qualities. Loyalty, courage, and humor.
Loyalty is knowing no matter what, you are there to stand up with your fellow brothers and sisters when times get tough. It may be a call, it may be a death, or it may be just simply lending an ear when you know your fellow responder is having a rough go at life. Loyalty can be measured in so many ways, but no matter what, it is a quality we all must have to be doing what we do.
Courage, now this speaks for itself. A firefighter runs into a burning building to save lives, and property. Whether you are rich or poor, young or old or simply just from a different walk of life, they go in for you never knowing if they themselves will make it out alive.
Police get called to many types of calls. They don’t just write speeding citations and pick on the public. They are ready at a moment’s notice to lay down their lives for those who call upon them. They walk into violence, to aid those in need. They respond at 3AM for a burglar alarm sounding in an unoccupied residence, or business and never know if there is someone awaiting them with an itchy trigger finger. They too never know if this call for help could be their last.
EMS, now some may argue why they need to have courage. But to me it is pretty clear. They may not be running into burning buildings, or willingly running into violence, but they are willing to stand in traffic to be there medically for those who need them. Not all scenes are “safe” ems as well never know when, or if they will succumb to the fate of death on a call. But it is not just the danger, it is the types of calls they endure. The beaten children, the murdered wife, the kids killed in a car wreck. To have your hands in the blood of others, and to deal with such tragedy and to continue doing what they do takes a lot of courage.
Now, humor. That is a funny one to add right? If you are a responder, you will get why this quality is important. For others, let me explain this to you. Humor is our medicine. It is what keeps us moving forward. Without it, a lot of us would bake in the horrors of the visuals we endure. Instead of cowering in the corner, we turn to our loyal, courageous brothers and sisters and make a joke. The jokes to the public seem cynical and immature, to us, it is how we cope. We don’t ask that everyone understands our humor, but if they hear us joking, give us a smile we may have just seen something we wish we could “unsee.”
I am sure there are a lot of other extremely important attributes that a responder must require, but to me, these were the ones that always stood out.
Take a moment, thank a responder!