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Flames to Fright: My Patriarch

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A lot of kids might choose a parent as their subject for a hero paper just because it seems the easiest way out, but I beg to differ. This is not at all the reason I chose to make my father the subject of my hero paper because he truly is a hero and role model for me and always has been. His profession is as a firefighter, but he also majors in the teaching of values. On and off duty, he always helps and does the right thing for people in trouble. A lot of these events I have been witness to, and others, I have only heard about through Dad’s recollections and the news. He does not twist the truth to make himself sound great, but is extremely humble and even didn’t agree with me that most of the major events and runs he’s been on and his actions are really heroic. I believe that when my dad helped control the situation in a car crash, gave aid to a waitress at a restaurant while waiting for an ambulance, encountered a heartbreaking car extraction, and other accidents and unfortunate mishaps that I wouldn’t be able to handle or take because of the extremes and emotional stretches he showed that he was a true hero.

As a firefighter, my dad has pledged to do what is right and to help others and I believe that he has fulfilled this and even surpassed it greatly. His most common runs that stay with him are car accidents and extrications. For those who are in the dark, what I mean by extrication is in a car crash, if someone is trapped in one of the cars, firefighters take different tools (jaws-of-life are common), to get a person out. He has told me about quite a few that he remembers; most of the ones he remembers have happy endings, though. One of the most heart-wrenching extrications he has been on involved a mother and her two sons who were hit by a drunk driver. The accident killed the mother and older son, who were in the front seat, but the younger son was still alive but badly injured in the backseat. “I was angry because the (drunk driver) guy had fled the scene. He didn’t stick around to see what he had done. The anger is a common emotion for firefighters, emergency workers at a scene like this one.” I know that I could not handle the thought that the young boy who was now alone in the world and did not realize it yet. It takes true courage and heart to be there for a child in a terrible time. This is a gift that not a lot of people posses. In this aspect, Dad has a leg up on Odysseus. This is not as big of a challenge for Dad. Like Odysseus, he has great heart, true values, and yet can still help get the job done.

On another day, another location, and in another crisis, my father showed once again how much he deserves to be looked up too and admired. The situation: a man in a S.U.V. is hit by a semi in a huge crash, he is near death, and time is ticking away. My dad’s rescue team showed up with other teams to help extricate and get the man to the hospital. This was a more routine extrication and the man got to the hospital, even though he was in a critical condition. The man sent a thank you card to all of the guys at the fire station. When I asked him about getting cards or receiving other forms of gratitude for the efforts of the fire station, Dad replied, “It feels good hearing feedback about someone you’ve rescued, because most of the people the last that we see of them is when we close the ambulance doors or put them in the helicopter to go to a hospital. It’s nice to hear back from people, especially ones who have a good outcome. Heck, some of them even come into the station to say thank you.” Unfortunately, some are unable to show their gratitude.

Some might remember that last winter a woman and young girls were in a mini-van that slid on ice and landed in a pond where all of the occupants drowned. Dad was on that run and he helped the team by keeping a cool head and doing what he was told. He told me that there were firemen jumping into the icy water trying to break windows and doors to get the girls out. Unfortunately, they were too late. “This run was the toughest run, emotionally, that I’ve ever been on. It took everybody a few weeks, if not a month or so to get back to being themselves after that run I suppose. Sometimes things like this can affect the guys deeply.” As his son, I can tell if he had a bad night or something terrible happened on a run. That is life for you, and like every hero, including Odysseus, no one is perfect and there are points of sorrow and you just have to pick yourself, brush off the dust, and move on. You cannot deny the fact that it was such a terrible thing that happened that it took even our protectors a while to bounce back from it, imagine how long it would take an average person, one who is not used to seeing something like that to get over it. This is another example of his inner-strength.

Even off duty, Dad is a hero to me in different ways. He is really supportive in everything I do, from sports to church activities or any other project I may get into. He is really fun to be around, but he never loses the fact that he is an adult and should be mature. Okay, maybe he only almost keeps that thought in mind. He is always on the job and ready to help where needed though. A good example of this, and a brunch I’ll never forget, is when we went to O’Charlie’s after church one Sunday. Upon entering the restaurant, it was evident that one of the waitresses was not feeling well. After we had been seated and were looking over the menu, there were screams from the front desk. The waitress had collapsed on the ground and was having seizure-like fits. Dad hurried through the almost empty restaurant to her aid because he is trained to be an emergency medical technician, while the manager called an ambulance. Dad helped keep the situation under control and made sure everyone was calm until the ambulance arrived. The manager was so grateful for Dad’s help that we all got a free breakfast out of it. The breakfast was not what I was proud of at that moment though. I was proud to say that that was my dad helping that poor waitress, and that he was not only just doing his job, but he was doing it well.

My dad might show his heroism mostly through his career, but (like Odysseus) he also has values that make him a good role model as well. Sometimes my mom has to keep him in line, but that does not make him a bad person. He does his best in every situation whether it is heartbreaking car extrication, a near death save, an unfortunate accident where nothing could be done, or even just a waitress who has a seizure. Even though I am not present to see some of these events first-hand where he shows his courage, intelligence, and collectiveness, he relates them to me after they happen and sometimes even drives me by the fire sites so I can get a better picture of what he might have dealt with even as early as the night before. Let me tell you, some of the fire damage that I have seen from these little trips has made me thankful that I was nowhere near the flames. Some might say that being a firefighter is easy, that it would not take much to accomplish. These people should talk to Scott.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Uncle Gary said...
Sept. 15, 2008 at 10:51 pm
Okay, who are you and what have you done with my nephew? This is an ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING essay! I am in AWE! Well done, Craig! Absotively, posilutely WELL DONE!
 
dgibboney said...
Sept. 15, 2008 at 1:39 pm
Great Story!!
 
Happy9604 said...
Sept. 15, 2008 at 12:53 pm
This is a very insightful article. We do not hear about the wonderful ideas of this younger generation enough.
 
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