Firefighters Wish

I wish you could know what it is like to search a burning bedroom for trapped children at 3 AM,

flames rolling above your head, your palms and knees burning as you crawl,

the floor sagging under your weight as the kitchen below you burns.

I wish you could comprehend a wife's horror at 6 in the morning

as I check her husband of 40 years for a pulse and find none.

I start CPR anyway, hoping to bring him back, knowing intuitively that it is too late,

 but wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done to save his life.

I wish you knew the unique smell of burning insulation,

the taste of soot-filled mucus, the feeling of intense heat through your turnout gear,

 the sound of flames crackling, the eeriness of being able to see

 absolutely nothing in dense smoke, sensations with which I've become too familiar.

I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a fire;

 "Is this a false alarm or a working fire? How is the building constructed?

 What hazards await me? Is anyone trapped?" Or to a call for help;

 "What is wrong with the patient? Is it minor or life-threatening?

Is the caller really in distress, or are they waiting for us with a 2x4 or gun?"

I wish you could be in the emergency room as a doctor pronounces dead

the beautiful five-year old girl that I have trying to save during the past 25 minutes,

 the girl who will never go on her first date or say the words "I love you, Mommy" again.

I wish you could feel the frustration I feel in the cab of the fire engine, squad,

 or ambulance, my arm tugging again and again at the air horn chain,

 as a driver fails to yield the right-of-way at an intersection or in traffic.

Yet, when we are needed, the first comment heard on our arrival will be,

 "It took you forever to get here!"

I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of

 teen-age years from the remains of her automobile.

 "What if this was my daughter, sister or friend?

What is going to be her parents' reaction when they open the door

 to find a police officer with hat in hand?"

 I wish you could know how it feels to walk in the back door and greet my family,

 not having the heart to tell them that I nearly did not come back from the last call.

I wish you could know how it feels dispatching officers, firefighters, EMT's,

and paramedics out, and when we call for them our hearts drop because

no one answers back, or to hear a bone chilling 911

call of a desperate child or spouse in need of help.