The other night I was sitting with a group of eight extraordinary men and women doing some training. I have sat almost over the past decade with many of these groups.
We talk about coping with the aftermath of dealing with complex events where trauma plays a large part. We talk about the adrenaline response, how and why people get flashbacks and nightmares after these events, how the body reacts with sleep and appetite disturbance, how emotions of anger and agitation play a role. We discuss how these are our bodies normal response to abnormal events.
They are our community professional fire-fighters or retained fire-fighters and I would like to thank them most sincerely.
While they receive a small compensatory payment, no payment can pay for their level of community service, compassion, professionalism when turning out to fire and rescue events.
Each year I go around Laois and meet all 8 crews. Some work from antiquated stations others are state of the art. Inside they have the most up to date equipment and appliances (they don’t call them fire engines!), but equipment and buildings do not make this service. It’s the people.
I am convinced that if the rest of the civil service and political classes had the same sense of public duty as our fire-fighters then our country would be in a better place.
I have never known a fire-fighter to knowingly do a wrong thing for personal advantage. Their work is about the team. Their ethos is about the community they serve. This team are focused on the best outcomes for those they respond too. We have so much to learn from them.
Their work goes unnoticed most of the time. They are so highly trained. They train a number of hours every week of the year. Preparation is the key in any response. They are guided by excellent permanent fire officers.
It’s not just a matter of arriving on the scene of an accident or a fire and putting water on it. The fire service answers more than chimney fires. Indeed the majority of their ‘shouts’ or call outs are associated with rescue events.
They respond to cardiac arrests, road traffic accidents train, bus, and cars, extracting victims with care, precision and compassion, fatalities, flooding, suicides, chemical incidents, swift water rescue, bog fires, chemical fires, house fires, industrial fires.
They deal with toxic smoke, and they enter places where others dare not.
What I like about our fire-fighters is they are real. They are not afraid to show they vulnerabilities when they respond to victims that are children or that they know personally and still have the professionalism and compassion to complete their roles. No this vulnerability is their strength, as a person who knows they need support shows depth, power and strength. They also have an incredible sense of humour.
We need also to thank their wives, husbands, partners, children and families. All of these are impacted by the fire-fighter service. They all make sacrifices too. They need to respond to a shout within minutes, they must always be on call, this means that what you and I take for granted is not the same for these families.
Want to go to visit your relative in a local hospital, your club team is playing a match away, somebody is there waiting, reading to respond if any of our families or communities need them.
They are our firefighters. Thank you for being there 365 days per year, 24 hours per day. Now go and check your smoke alarm.