Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Parable of The First Responder

I have to give a little bit of back-story to this post. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. When I was born, my family lived in a rural area outside of Cincinnati called Batavia, Ohio.

As with most rural areas of our country, the first responders (police, fire department and life squad - now called ambulance) were all volunteer. In some areas they still are today. These are people who hold regular jobs, but during their time off they are on call and/or stationed at their respective buildings in order to quickly respond to an emergency. My father served, for a period of some years, as a volunteer at one time or another for all three in Batavia.

All photos are Copyright Cassandra Dawn Bushman

His Police Badge:

His Fire Fighter Badge:

Dad's Life Squad certification:

This parable is about the true nature of service. We have so many people who serve, but even more who only claim to serve but don't really walk the walk. The term "public servant" comes to mind with some of our elected officials. I was raised with an atmosphere of service in the home I grew up in. This started with my parents.

Let's think of the amount of hours my father spent getting trained for each of the 3 volunteer positions he held in Batavia. Did it take him away from his family? Yes. Was it time consuming? Yes. Was it worth it to the people he rescued? Absolutely yes.

Let's think about the calls he got to rescue someone or help someone in distress. Did these come at inconvenient times for my family? Yes. Was it worth it to the people he helped? Absolutely yes.

Some of these emergencies were flooded river banks, fires, medical emergencies in the home, bad vehicle accidents as well as robberies and disputes. How much do you think people valued Dad's willingness to drop everything and come to a rescue? The word priceless comes to mind, but Mastercard might have issues with that.

Dad always had to be prepared for any emergency, even if we were out for a family car ride here in Arizona and Dad was no longer the "official" first responder he had been in the past. I witnessed many times both of my parents administering emergency aid to someone at a rest stop, including one man who had been severely burned from his car's radiator cap exploding on him.

This was in the days before cell phones, when making a simple phone call was not an option.

Now let's think about what we call "service" today. Yes, there are some fantastic examples of service, including the first responders we have today (paid and unpaid), those in the military and their families, and anyone working in a public school. This includes not only the teachers, but also the staff who are the unsung heroes in public education.

There are also, I'm sorry to say, those whose "service" leaves something to be desired.

Those who abuse the word not only set a bad example, but they will, I believe, ultimately be exposed to the rest of the world for what they really are.

Ultimately, the questions we should be asking are: a) What kind of service do we give (this includes me as well ;o); and b) What kind of people should we be really looking up to? Celebrities, sports stars, politicians, or to those who provide the service most people never see?

I can be grateful that although my Dad was not perfect (he passed away on Dec. 13, 2006), he and Mom did set examples for me to rely on, even today.

I love you Dad, Happy Father's Day.

No comments: