Rubber Necking

Posted: March 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

Rubber Necking

Every morning/afternoon I log in and scan the news. Local, national, world. The headlines screaming tragedies, coast to coast, sea to sea. This morning I read about eleven endangered Siberian Tigers that died from starvation in a China zoo. It upset me. There are organizations on the case, investigating. Rising up with outrage. Using their anger for this injustice as fuel to bring about change and make demands of accountability. It won’t bring the eleven Siberian tigers back to life but awareness will be raised. Something will be done.

When my two older children were in grammar school, ages 9 and 10 my dad became quite ill. During the 2 weeks before he passed away, I had signed up for a CPR class. A sign up sheet was mixed in with the papers that the kids brought home. I must have been preoccupied when I filled it out because I can’t really recall too much about it.

What I can recall is sitting in my house one rainy evening and hearing a horrendous car accident happening. Squealing breaks, then the momentary hesitation before the crash. I ran out of the house, through the back yard to the road where it happened. And just stood there. Watching. Almost instantly the sirens could be heard. Help was on the way. I stayed in my spot behind the trees until the last emergency vehicle pulled away.

This had a huge impact on me for some reason. At the time I was a homemaker raising two children, working a part-time job and caring for my folks. I had no interest in taking on anything else at the time. I had my hands full. Sadly, my dad passed away, he had been  ill for a while and the family was pre-advised that there was nothing that could be done.

I think I left my senses after that. Everything is blurry and surreal. Shock can do that to a person. Shock and grief and anger. Within a week of my dad passing, I received a phone call regarding the CPR class I had signed up for. We must have discussed the time and place of the class, I have no idea. When the day came, in automatic pilot, I went to learn how to help save someones life. It was a small class in a dusty firehouse, I was very shy and scared but the people were funny and dedicated. That propelled me to continue. We were given a verbal lesson first. Then it was time to practice on the CPR mannequin.  My turn. I got down on my knees, new skills under my belt, ready to use them. And I froze. I started crying and looked up at the instructors in a daze. Unexpected emotions welled up and I wanted to just run the hell out of there. I took a deep breath, composed myself and was honest. I told the instructors that my dad had just passed away and that I was freaking out a little bit. They were very cool about it.

With encouragement and understanding I finished the class, not before they had singled me out as the one who asked the most questions. A bit exasperated, one of the instructors had asked me to stay after the class was finished and fill out an application to join the fire department.

To make a long, disjointed story short. I did join. The fire department sponsored me through EMT training and I spent a few years running around town with a Starsky and Hutch blue flashing light on the roof of my car. It was the most rewarding few years I have ever had.

What I learned from this experience was that somewhere inside me there is a flame. Though I can’t help every cause or change the outcome of every personal tragedy, I did acquire a set of skills and the confidence to use them. To help, to make things a little better for someone,  to be able to come out from behind the trees and do more than just watch.

  1. joannefirth says:

    Thanks so much everyone. It will always remain a mystery to me how I became so fascinated with emergency medical services. All I know is that everything about it was fun and rewarding. I miss being active but I passed the torch to my son Vincent and that is a great comfort to me. 🙂

    P.S. Sis….you are my hero. I love you.

  2. Linda Adcock says:

    Okay Sis – this one made me cry – you are my hero!!!

  3. Caroline says:

    This is a great post! You have no idea how strong it makes you to forge ahead and do something outside of your comfort zone to help people. It is a rare gift, a rare strength and you should feel empowered knowing you have it! Me I’m a bit of a George Costanza (Seinfeld reference) when it comes to an emergency or crisis – sad but true. Long term crises I can handle, then I take charge, but the true WTF emergencies, when you need a clear head and quick action, I freeze and run. Love knowing this about you Joanne (also not a surprise, figured you were a rock) <—compliment :o) Thank you for posting!!!

  4. Dani H says:

    I love continuing to learn really stunning things about all of my twitter friends ~ there are so many parts of our histories that just won’t fit into 140-characters. I don’t have the kind of strength it takes to be an EMT, and I am the proverbial deer in the headlights in any unexpected situation ~ good or bad ~ unless it’s a threat against someone I love. Then I rush ahead without any thought and usually make the situation worse. I can’t read or watch the news anymore, I just can’t. There are SO many facets of you that I admire, Joanne, not the least of which is your writing. My respect for you grows every day, and I can’t tell you how much your friendship means to me. I am thrilled to see new words from you. *hugs*

  5. Thank you for your shares in this story! I am a Hospice volunteer and I understand and connect with the words you write about the inner flame and going beyond watching things happen, become an integral part of a process.
    Nina Scripps

  6. Wow ~ you stand as an inspiration to us all ~ far too often we just remain shocked at some event or another but you have taken action in order to make this world a better place ~ THANK YOU

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