None of us would be where we are today without those who helped us get here. I think that’s a safe statement to make. For some, it may be our parents for raising us up right. For others, it may be those who influenced the career path or those who drove us towards the passion that we have found in the fire service.
When I look back at my path, there are far too many people who made a positive impact on me to list. First and foremost, my parents would be at the top of the list. They have always been right by my side, and never hesitate to help direct me in the right direction. I would add many school teachers to the list who helped me stay focused during my years in grade school. I would add my brothers and sisters of my volunteer department who helped lay the ground work for me to enter this career that I love. The instructors that helped train me from “this is a band-aid” to emergency shoring in Structural Collapse Tech. While I have attended several classes over the short amount of time that I have been in emergency services, a few of these influences left me far too soon. To finish out the list, I would highlight the strong support that I receive on a daily basis from my “support staff” and loving girlfriend, Rachel. She has been introduced to this crazy and busy lifestyle of mine, and tries to hang on tight as I run with it.
During my youth, I first met Earl Morphew as he responded to treat me as a patient while I was having an asthma attack. Cool, calm, and collected is how he always presented while treating me. Years later, I was honored to serve along side of him on my volunteer department. He witnessed me enter into the Explorer Program as a junior member, and was killed on the one year anniversary of me hiring on at my career department. He is often mentioned in my articles, and I wrote about the impression he made on me in this article: Remembering A Fallen Brother: Earl Morphew.
The second instructor, mentor, and friend that comes to mind is Charles “Brother” Smith. He was pretty much only known as “Brother” to everyone, and words can’t describe what a character he was. Brother Smith assisted in developing the first trench rescue training class along side Jim Gargan. They instructed all across the country, and our paths crossed at my volunteer department. Brother ended up finding a home with our department and taught technical rescue classes for us for several years. He wasn’t much on the PowerPoint presentations, and his verstion of “slides” were the projector type. The fact is that he knew his stuff! He introduced me to the technical rescue courses, and I credit him with steering me to test for the department that I now work at as a career.
Two years ago today, we lost Brother due to his heart giving out. Even though he had more heart than I ever will, several heart attacks damaged it beyond repair. It seems like just yesterday that I could walk into my volunteer firehouse and sit down for a cup of coffee with him. Prior to him passing, he knew that I had been interested in obtaining a position on our Technical Rescue Team. Our department has 7 personnel on each shift that are dedicated team members, and I had interviewed for a position earlier this year. I was ranked 3rd on the list, and due to a recent opening…I have now been placed on the team. While this is just the beginning, I can’t help but to think back to all the good times we had during the extreme heat and snowy days to learn a thing or two about technical rescue. Those cold days and hot evenings paid off.
I made the team Brother, and I couldn’t have gotten here without you.