Today I “officially” became a Team Leader at our monthly volunteer meeting, even though I’ve been acting in that capacity for a little while now. The pin makes it extra-official. I sure am gathering a lot of flair!
It was a bittersweet meeting – it was sweet (as always) because I got to reconnect with some of my favorite people. There haven’t been a lot of fires on my shifts lately, so I’ve missed hanging out with them. It was bitter because apparently we take a summer break from our monthly meetings, and now we won’t have one again until September. It’s normally one of the few things I get to look forward to every month, so I’m a little sad we won’t be meeting for the next few months.
Today’s topic of conversation – coincidentally scheduled long before Sunday – was Mass Casualty Incidents (MCI). Some members of the team are participating in a MCI drill next week, which sounds really awesome (but alas, it’s on a weekday during the day). We discussed what the team’s role will be in the exercise, and there were some pictures shown of real incidents.
While everyone else in the room cringed at the pictures, I was kind of fascinated; I had no negative response whatsoever. The picture we saw of guys crawling through tight spaces to rescue people, with just a crowbar keeping them from death got my blood pumping. The picture of a fireman carrying a dead bloodied child out of wreckage made a lot of people wince, but it didn’t affect me in the slightest. Family and friends, after hearing me expound passionately on how much I love this work, have repeatedly joked that the next thing they know, I’m going to leave my job and enroll in firefighter training. Each time they joke, I laugh, but a part of me really really wants to do just that.
Here’s how I like to think of it: if you need consoling, a shoulder to cry on, someone to patiently listen to you and just be there after you or a loved one has been through a traumatic event… I’m probably not who you want around. I’m way too high-strung, hyper, and filled with adrenaline for that. I’m the person you want to have running around getting things done and directing people into action, without having to worry if I’m going to have a nervous breakdown because of all the carnage. Blood doesn’t affect me. Death doesn’t affect me. Listening to people relaying the details of watching their loved ones burn to death in front of their eyes doesn’t affect me. (<– True story. That totally happened.)
A few years ago, I caught one of my grandmothers staring at me at Christmas dinner, and she loudly proclaimed (so that the entire neighborhood could hear), “Why are you so cold, Lindsay Beth? What made you this way? What’s wrong with you? You are just a cold, unfeeling person. There’s something wrong with you.” At the time, I just sat there, stunned and confused – I hadn’t even said or done anything to provoke those remarks, and my grandmother is generally of sound mind, so I couldn’t play it off like “grandma’s senile.” And I write this here not because I’m proud of it (on the contrary; it irks me to this day), but because maybe it’s okay to not react emotionally to situations. Maybe the reason why I’m so “cold” is that I’m meant to use that trait for the greater good in my everyday life?
As we were leaving the meeting tonight, I was chatting with a fellow volunteer about the presentation we’d just listened to. She’s a nurse in a busy hospital, and I asked her how cool it is to see all those wounds and injuries everyday and to help all the people she comes in contact with. She looked at me like I had 6 heads. She got me thinking, though… I’m not sure what exactly I want to do, but if money wasn’t a factor, I think I’d really love being a first responder. Whether it’s as a paramedic, an EMT, or as a firefighter, I don’t know, but I really think I’d be great at it. I’ve done some preliminary research, and I know that it would be a rather significant pay cut – like, my salary would be pretty much cut in half. That’s the big deterrent at the moment. However, I’m getting closer and closer to paying off my mortgage, and my student loans are already paid off, so in another couple years, I might be able to do something like that. I took a practice firefighting written exam last weekend, just for fun, and I passed with flying colors. I think my big obstacle would be the physical test. And even that, well, that’s something that a person could work towards. Becoming a paramedic would require more schooling, but that idea’s also swimming around in my brain.
For such a short meeting, I sure left with a lot to think about. I guess I’ll have a few extra hours over the next few months to get my head straight and figure things out. I’m sure that was totally the point of the summer break, no? 🙂