21 February 2011


FIRST RESPONDERS. Thanks to my Tucson friend Lou for sending me this article -- "A veteran city firefighter's refusal to respond to the January 8 shooting spree may have slowed his Tucson Fire Department unit's response to the incident that left 6 dead and 13 wounded" .... at first the firefighter cited "political bantering" and said his refusal was "for the good of the crew" .... upon being told that wasn't a valid reason for failing to do his job, the firefighter simply said he was going home sick.

Initially I thought the firefighter was someone who might be opposed to the politics of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, one of the victims. Upon reading the article more carefully, I learned that the firefighter actually had voted for Giffords, was angered by her shooting, and said he did not share the political views of some of his crew. Either way though, refusing to respond constitutes gross dereliction of duty and disobedience of orders. The firefighter himself later recognized this, and after apologizing to his crew, retired from TFD.

Wikipedia lists first responders as being paramedics, emergency doctors and nurses, and emergency medical technicians in the civilian world; medics in the military. I would also include police and firefighters. All first responders are trained to place their personal views and feelings on hold when sent to an emergency. For some, subsequent therapy or counseling is helpful in reconciling traumatic or conflicted feelings. Forty years ago I was an ambulance driver in Tucson, back in the days before EMTs even existed. All you needed was a Red Cross first aid card and an Arizona chauffeur's license (now known as a CDL or Commercial Drivers License). Training was primitive compared to today, yet we always did our best with what we had, and we always responded to a call. I cannot begin to understand a veteran first responder (one who had been an exemplary and competent employee) freezing up as this man did. But then, I've never walked in his shoes. All I can think is that for his own emotional health, as well as for the safety of the public, his leaving was the right choice. It's a sad state of affairs when the job stress placed on medical personnel, police, fire, and other emergency responders becomes so severe that it clouds their judgment and potentially risks the lives of others. Upon reflection, I empathize with the firefighter, and hope that he finds a place of comfort and forgiveness in his heart.

In contrast to this man's reaction, consider the NYPD aviation unit helicopter pilot who was called to rescue two West Point cadets from an 18-inch wide mountain ledge where they had been stranded 500 feet above the ground for eight hours. When local authorities were unable to reach the climbers, the NYPD crew responded. The pilot steadied the helicopter "against winds exceeding 30 mph as it hovered about 60 to 80 feet above the men, the chopper's blades just 20 feet from rocks and trees. The helicopter was kept within a 3-foot radius as the men were secured to a horse-collar style rescue harness dropped from it." As an aspiring pilot, I can tell you that is some kind of flying.

WAR ON WOMEN. Hyperbole or fact? I'm inclined to believe the latter, given efforts by members of the Republican party to redefine rape, belittle victims of violence, and attack women's right to choose. Here for your consideration are The Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP's War on Women. I can't help wondering how Republican women feel about this. What's next -- burkhas?

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