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Emergencies and First Responders

Updated on May 19, 2014

If you’ve never had a medical emergency, you are one of the lucky ones and may not relate to this article. From experience though, I want you to understand that when a medical emergency arises, those few short minutes waiting for trained personnel to arrive seem like an eternity. Equally significant is the feeling of relief, once you know the medical emergency is in the hands of skilled and caring people. Those trained hands belong to real heroes.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while because these heroes have never gotten the attention they deserve. They are under paid and they work long hours. Many are volunteers, giving their time and talents to take care of us in the midst of a crisis. Why? Because they care.


From A Personal Perspective

In 1999, my mother had a stroke. It was a little after 10 p.m. and she lived in the county, about 12 miles from the nearest Rescue Squad facility. I lived about 5 miles from her at the time and my brother only about six blocks. When my brother called, I was in the car in minutes and when I arrived, the Rescue Squad was already there. While the EMS staff stabilized my Mom, they sent me ahead to register her at the hospital. Mom was unresponsive and as I raced to the hospital, I was terrified that this was the end for my Mom. As I stood waiting outside the Emergency Room, I watched as the ambulance approached, siren screaming and red lights flashing. My thought that night is as vivid now as it was then. I thought - “in this moment, life has changed for us”.

The good news is that Mom survived the stroke and has fought tirelessly to overcome its devastating effects. But the sounds of the sirens and lights on that emergency vehicle will be with me forever. The men inside were angels; people called to handle medical emergencies and terrified families.

Medical Emergencies Change Lives

My home is located just blocks away from our local hospital and one of the busiest emergency rooms on the East Coast, It is a level II trauma center. Sirens are part of my day to day life and yet I never hear one that I don’t recall my thoughts on the night of Mom’s stroke. I hear the siren and my next thought is – “someone’s life just changed”.

These heroes, the medical emergency workers have seen things that no human should ever have to witness. They have done things that most of us could not do with a gun held to our heads. And still they smile and give of their time and talents to help us through whatever tragedy befalls us. They are firemen, EMT’s, paramedics, cardiac techs, and police officers and they risk their lives every day to bring comfort to tragedy. These men and women are responsible for maintaining life-saving equipment, vehicles, uniforms, the crew hall, and, each other. They lift each other up and hold each other’s hands when the pain is too much. They are the first to be involved in community events or charities that benefit the community. They give and give and then give some more.

When fire strikes, they are there to squelch the flames, to save a child from a burning home, and yes, they even risk their life to pull a dog from under a burning shed. When illness strikes, they are there to provide critical medications and to monitor our status until a physician can take charge. When an accident occurs, they risk their lives in moving traffic to cut a young person from the vehicle that has collapsed around them. These emergency care givers constantly train for every possible scenario so that when we need them, they are ready and willing and able. No other profession gives as much or is as honorable, in my opinion.

My Inspiration

I cannot write about emergency personnel without sharing with you what inspired this writing. I want to tell you three short stories. You probably have your own and I hope that when you read this, you will be inspired to say thank you in your own way to the professionals in your community.


Nathan's Story

Six year old Nathan lives just a few miles from my hometown. He is battling cancer and his Christmas wish was to receive Christmas cards from police, firefighters, and EMS personnel. See, Nathan has already learned to see emergency medical professionals as heroes. Someone posted Nathan’s wish on the Wish Upon A Hero web site.

Yesterday, December 6, 2012, Nathan’s mom heard a knock on the door and opened it to find Joseph Scarpantio, a paramedic from New York who is a cancer survivor. He had read Nathan’s story and came to Virginia bearing gifts for Nathan and, some of his fellow firemen caught a ride too. One man, one little boy’ wish and an unselfish love. It’s the stuff of fairy tales.

Mr. Scarpantio – if you should ever get to read this, you sir, are a real hero.


Since this story aired on local television stations, the support for Nathan's wish has been amazing. No one can tell me that there are not heroes and compassionate people in this old world. They just don't get the attention they deserve.

A Story About Attitudes

The second story is not such a happy one. In another town not far from my home, four first responders were en route to a brush fire when the fire truck they were in flipped over. Two were critically injured. When the newspaper reported the story, an arrogant reader responded in the comment section with “that’s your tax dollars at work folks”.

It made me so angry that I could not see straight. This is pure ignorance and sometimes seems rampant in our society today. Where was the compassion for the injured firemen? As I sat there staring at the insensitive comment, I could not help but wonder how this person would feel if the fire had been his home that was saved by the dedication and training of these true heroes.

A Story That Is Hard To Tell and Hard To Hear

Finally a story that is hard to write and will be hard to read too. But these things have to be told in order to really understand the dedication of these men and women who put their life on the line for the rest of us. There is a park in my town where a train trestle crosses the river from the city into the county. It is a horrible temptation for young people and to date about 17 people have died there.

On December 17, 2011, five students from Liberty University wandered out on the trestle to star gaze. They couldn’t beat the Amtrak train when they heard it coming. One young woman died, one was seriously inured, and three had more minor injuries. My cousin is the Safety Director for the county and a paramedic. He and his team spent most of the night recovering body parts from the train track. It was his job to call a father and tell him of his daughter’s tragic death. And, he met the father there the next morning to describe the horror. No human being should ever have to witness such a scene but that’s what first responders do. How do they do it? I don’t know but they are heroes of the heart and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Saying Thanks

These are true stories, not stories of fiction. They are not shared to shock you or cause you emotional pain. They are simply stories that I hope will inspire you to say thank you when you pass a first responder on the street. When you hear of a fire in the cold of winter, maybe you will be inspired to take coffee to the scene or, maybe just make an extra batch of cookies and take them by a firehouse or Rescue Squad facility. When you see these heroes in their uniform, remind yourself of what they do and how much they care.

Treat them like heroes, please?

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.


Submit a Comment

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey Shauna! Good morning to ya. I love your comment. It is a war zone, isn't it? Thanks for feeling as I do about the heroes in our communities.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, you are so right. Our unsung heroes deserve our praise, respect and kindness. They live their lives in a war zone, never knowing when the enemy called trajedy will strike.

    Thank you for remembering them and sharing with us!

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Mary, it is people like your grandson (and others in your family) that inspired me to write this. Your grandson is so young to be dealing with death and yet they do it, day after day. And, like you said, they don't quit. They really are amazing human beings. Thank you for sharing that story and for all the votes too.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    ImKarn23 - talk about being touched. I am moved to tears by your message. I cannot imagine what the first responders of 911 are living with and have more respect for them than I can even put words to. Your "man" is a hero and I am sure those that he helped in New York after Sandy hit were comforted by his skill and generosity. Wow!

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Lipnancy. Thank you for reading my tribute to the first responders. Please, give your father a hug for me and tell him "thanks" for his service.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

    I voted this every button but funny. You have written a beautiful tribute to a group of people who deserve our respect, thanks, and admiration. Where I live these people are all volunteers. My family has a tradition of volunteer firemen and now one of my grandchildren is a volunteer firefighter and EMT (emergency medical technician). Just last week he was called to a house and administered CPR to a very sick woman. Unfortunately, she did not make it....he now, at twenty, has faced this horrible situation and he continues to serve.

    Bravo Linda.

  • ImKarn23 profile image

    Karen Silverman 5 years ago

    this touched me on a very personal level! i owe my life to emergency responders, and - my man (Fyrfytr234) was a fire captain for 25 years in new jersey. when 9/11 hit - he was recovering in a back brace from surgery and never got over the guilt of not being there so when Sandy hit- he came out of retirement in florida and spent 2 weeks in a firestation in new york - going door to door..

    he got to help people AND get some closure...

    great hub, dear!

  • Lipnancy profile image

    Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

    I am proud to say my father has served as a volunteer fireman and rescue person for over 60 years. He is now an honorary members and does not plan to retire!

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Dearest Amy, you have said it all. Thank you. Your heart is so beautiful.

  • Amy Becherer profile image

    Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    It takes a special kind of person to be the first responder in a bad situation, never really knowing how bad, and remain composed, assertive, yet careful. They not only save lives, they prevent creating a worse situation. I've seen less competent action in local ER's. These men and women are often taken for granted. Yet, it is their competence in assessing situations that are all different, performing lifesaving techniques and calling ahead to the ER that effectively changes the outcome of critical events. During 9/11, many gave their lives to save others. While the terrorists call their actions that of a martyr, among the true saints that devastating day were the emergency personnel. And, many of these unsung heroes perform miracles everyday in every city and county nationwide. Thank you, Linda, for a beautiful tribute to some of America's most deserving, unsung heroes.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jillian. You are amazing. I always know you are speaking from the heart. I cannot imagine living with wild fires all around. It must be terrifying. This past summer, when the firest we raging in Colorado, I had a friend living in the area. She sent me photos of the firefighters sleeping on pads in the road because they did not want to leave the area of an extinguished fire unattended. No one made them do it. They just did it because they cared. It takes a special person to do what they do.

    Thank you for understanding the totality of this hub. I thought is was important to tell the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 5 years ago from California, USA

    Paramedics and firefighters are the best! What a wonderful tribute! I come from Southern California, where we are constantly beseiged by huge fires due to the hot, dry, often 60 mile per hour Santa Ana winds. My family has been evacuated more times than I can remember, usually with plenty of time to get out safely, and yet, there are those who refuse to leave. Every year, the counties involved issue the warnings that if you stay, no one will not be able to come rescue you, and every year, brave (I couldn't do it!) firefighters and paramedics fight their way through hellish conditions to rescue the stubborn.

    Our latest fire, just a few years ago, swept through 6 miles in less than 15 minutes, hundreds of homes destroyed---as we were running away, the firefighters and paramedics were running towards the danger. When this happens, we have time to get our kids, pets, and the clothes on our backs, and get the heck out!

    The star gazing story was necessary, in my opinion, to illustrate the horrors involved with these jobs. As for the commenters on the story about the traffic accident- stupid is stupid!

    Great article!

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you for the comment mayank786.

  • profile image

    mayank786 5 years ago

    actually at the the time of emergency the medical emergency workers works as a god they got lot of prayers form the person who are in emergency.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi MH. they are heroes, without a doubt. And yes, it is amazing to see them perform in circumstances that require steady hands and and organized thought. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

    Thank you very much for this. What can I say? I once threw a big picnic. 2 of the guests were ambulance personnel. When another man had a heart attack their instinct took over. It was amazing. If it wasn't for them... well.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    I agree totally shiningirisheyes. You are awesome!

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

    It goes back to what I commented on earlier with one of your other awesome hubs. It is our responsibility to never turn away, no matter how difficult it may be.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Shiningirisheyes. Thank you. I had a hard time deciding whether to include the star gazer story but decided that it is the reality of these brave souls and it should not be exluded. I hope others who read it understand like you have. Thank you so much!

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

    I give you a huge thanks for penning this. The story about Nathan warmed my heart. Mr. Scarpantio is an angel among angels.

    I am glad to hear Mom is recovering, although a struggle she is headed in the right direction. The star gazers is a very tragic story and it makes the reader realize how far reaching these first responders sacrifices are. Having to tell a loved one of the death of their dear one is painful enough but having to witness it is heart wrenching.

    Thank again for an important write

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jaye, I don't know how to say thank you to you for your wonderful comment. I can tell from your message that you know exactly how I feel and I am proud to share this platform with you. Thank you sooooo much.

  • lrc7815 profile image

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, my good and dear friend, I never doubted that you would share my feelings. The stories here locally over the last few days shook the dust out of my brain and I had to write this one. Nathan's story touched my special spot and I cried like a baby. How kind and generous those New York firefighters are, and especially after all they've been through. Thanks pal. You always make my days brighter.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    All first responders--medical, fire and police--should have our gratitude. Whether we need them or not, they are ready and willing to help us quickly, sometimes laying their lives on the line to do so. Just think about the first responders to the Twin Towers on 9/11. Many of them died trying to save lives.

    I have plenty of reason to feel my own gratitude to the emergency medical techs who responded when my family needed them, and I hope they realized my "thank you" came from the heart.

    Great article, great reminder....Voted Up+++ and shared.


  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Bravo! You are oh so right! I have a good friend who is an emergency responder and the stories he has told would turn my hair white (instead of the gray it already is :) )....these people are unsung heroes each and every day and I'm so glad you wrote this hub. A must read for everyone, Linda! Well done!


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