by Rick Workman

Rick Workman
Rick Workman

I post this in honor of those members of fire/rescue/EMS/law enforcement who have gone to their rest. I have been in the position to say goodbye to some of my “Heroes” and mentors, and it’s a hard place to stand. I thank you all for what I received from each of you. To your credit or detriment, you helped make me the public servant I am today.

He was an old hand
I was just a rookie EMT
We rode together to a fire call
In December of ’83
Everybody on that scene
Gave it everything they had
But it was an old two story structure
It couldn’t end any way but badWhen all was said and done
A woman and her baby had perished in the flames
The old hand looked at me and said
Before we leave, be sure and get their names
As we headed in, the roaring of the engine
Was the only thing to make a sound
I saw from the light of the dashboard
That he had tears freely flowing down
He didn’t try to stop ’em
He couldn’t if he’d tried
But, that’s the first time I knew
Heroes cried

Time and calls came and went
Made their mark and took their toll
Until the day finally came
The old hand wasn’t there to answer roll
The tones went off one Sunday mornin’
The address seemed familiar as it rumbled in my head
It made sense when we checked on scene
We found the old hand on the floor by the bed
He grinned when he saw me
And stuck out his hand
Just help me up, you little s**t
You ain’t puttin’ me in the van
I saw the pain in that gentle face
As I lifted him from the floor
I had made this move a thousand times
But it had never felt like this before
“It don’t hurt much,” he whispered
I had to leave before I cried
That’s the first time I knew
Heroes lied

I listened to all the stories
And told a few of my own
Then I took my place in line
With all my brothers, there among the stones
We agreed he was kind and gentle
And could be rough around the edge
But there was no one we’d rather have
Beside us on the ledge
The pipers playing “Amazing Grace”
Only added to the pall
Sadness hung heavy in the air
As they made the old hand’s final call
A million collective thoughts ran through our minds
As we all stood up straight, staring at the ground
Pondering what this life meant to each of us
His worn and wounded body was lowered down
I could hear the grown men sobbing
Every tear was justified
‘Cause that’s the first time we knew
Heroes died

Copyright 2015 by Rick Workman and One Mile South
(I give credit to the band collectively because I took the hook for this from their song. I will be glad to credit the individual writers if I am informed who they are). I am to blame only for the verses. This incredible hook belongs to someone else, so if it is used for any commercial venture you are not authorized to do so.

About the Author: Rick Workman is the Assistant Administrator of Weakley County (TN) Ambulance Service, Commander of the Weakley County Rescue Squad, First Lt. with the Palmersville Volunteer Fire Department, and Weakley County First Responder Coordinator. Rick has been a Paramedic since 1983 and is certified as a First Responder Instructor and American Heart Association Basic Life Support Instructor.