I Am Really Uncomfortable

Let’s start this our right: there are times where we absolutely must risk our lives in attempting to save those in trouble. And while there are numerous factors related to that including size up, resources, and training—firefighters have and must be ready to go to extreme measures to save lives. Always have. Always will.

To be clear about that, make sure you attend FDIC next month when the Chief Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award is presented; or at FRI when the Ben Franklin Award is presented; or when the Michael McNamee Valor Award is presented thru Firehouse. Or any of the other well deserving recipients who risked their lives to save others. While rare, we have no choice but to always be ready in every aspect of what we may be called to do.

Survival – our mission and focus – must be to do all we can when the size up indicates we have a chance to help someone survive. That requires a whole lot work and leadership before that tone goes off.

The words “firefighter” and “cancer” have been linked more these last few years more than in the last few decades combined. It’s well proven that as a firefighter the-by far-greatest potential of losing your life related to the job is by cancer. And while we know the numbers are high, currently many groups working together (thru the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance) on systems to determine the stats and so much more-because once we have stats we can then fully focus on the problem.

One area I have trouble with is change. Now understand, it doesn’t mean that I don’t change, it means I am just not all that comfortable with it. I have to force myself. You should have been there the day they told us to turn our smoke ejectors around and now push air in vs sucking it out. Sometimes I have to be pushed, hard. Some changes are easier than others; typically my favorite changes are those where I can “instantly” see a benefit. For example, don’t drive at night with sunglasses on; instant benefits. Stop disagreeing with Teri, instant benefit. Stuff like that.

So when I saw this video I was very uncomfortable.  I saw things in this video that are so far off the scale of how most of us operate at a fire and after the fire. The video is nothing at all how we do business or at least how I have since 1973.

Of course, in 1973, our SCBA was in a wooden box on our roofless truck to save it for when we really needed it. Our “Come Alongs” and “Porta Powers” were the Jaws of Life. We rode tailboard and figured falling off was “part of the job” and we vented buildings like un-medicated Tasmanian devils because that allowed us to get to the fire…or the fire get to us.

So I guess you’re thinking my next comment is something like “See? Look how we have changed…and we can change” or some motivational BS.

Nope. That’s not my comment. Not by a long shot.

My comment is that after watching the below video, those firefighters who have or had cancer will get it and agree with what the firefighters do and suggest in this video. Those firefighters (and family) who are or were close to firefighters that have or had cancer will most likely also agree; the rest of us, not so much.

Just take a look at the below video. It will help gauge how serious each of us are about minimizing cancer impacting us, those we command and those who expect us to push through what’s uncomfortable. When I just wrote that last sentence I thought of some friends who would argue that chemo, for example, or pain in your bones that never goes away-or radiation, or weighing 100 lbs. weeks before you die from firefighter occupational cancer …is uncomfortable too. Sorry-I was trying really hard to avoid motivational BS in this piece.

Just watch the video, and like me, I am thinking it will make you feel very uncomfortable – or maybe it’s a push. Not sure I’m there yet.

Healthy Firefighters and The Skelleftea Model