I wish you could see the sadness in that poor
gentleman's eye's as his livelihood and business burn
to the ground or that family returning home,
only to find their belongings and home,
damaged and destroyed.
I wish you could see what it is like
to search a burning bedroom for missing children,
flames rolling violently above,
your palms and knees burning as you crawl,
the floor sagging immensely as the room below you
is being devoured by flame.
I wish you could see a wife's horror
at 4 a.m. as I check her husband of fifty years
for a pulse and find none.
I start CPR anyway,
hoping against hope to bring him around,
knowing in my heart that it is too late.
But wanting his wife and family to know
that everything possible was tried.
I wish you could see
and smell burning insulation,
the taste of soot-filled mucus,
the feeling of intense heat
radiating through your turnout gear,
the sound of flames crackling,
and the feeling of being able
to see absolutely nothing through the dense,
dark smoke - the sensation I have become all too familiar with.
I wish you could see
and understand how it feels to go to work
in the morning after having spent most of the night,
hot and soaking wet at a multiple alarm structure fire.
I wish you could be in the emergency room,
as the doctor pronounces dead
the beautiful little five year old
that I have been trying to save
for the past thirty minutes.
Who will never go on her first date or say the word,
"I LOVE YOU MOMMY!" again.
I wish you could feel the frustration
I feel in the cab of my engine,
the driver pushing down hard on the brake,
my arm pulling and pulling on the air horn,
as you fail to yield the right of way
at the intersection.
When you need us, however,
the first thing you tell us is, "It took you forever to get here."
I wish you could read my mind
as I help extricate a teenage girl
from the front seat of her mangled car.
What if it were your sister, wife or friend?
What are the reactions of the parent going to be
when the policeman knocks at their door, hat in hand.
I wish you could know
how it feels to walk into your home
and greet your loved ones,
not having the heart to tell them
you nearly lost your life at the last "routine" call.
I wish you could realize the physical,
emotional and mental drain of messed meals,
lost sleep and missed family outings,
in addition to all the misfortunes my eyes have seen.
I wish you could feel the sense
of brotherhood and companionship
we firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel have with each other.
Unless you have lived this kind of life,
you will never truly understand
or appreciate who I am,
what we are,
or what our job really means to us.
Or for that matter
what our job and efforts mean to you!