The day had been a pleasant one, I had spent it with my family preparing for Christmas festivities. I was holding my youngest son when the alert went off. It said: Signal 7, PD/EMS Involvement, veh vs mc, engulfed in flames. The location was in my response area.
I found my wife, and as calmly as one can be after reading that, I said I had to go. She knows the call can come at any time. She smiled and said, “Be safe, I love you”.
I dressed in my gear as fast as I could and headed toward the scene. I wondered what this scene was going to look like when I got there. Being a Chaplain, I often get very little information before arrival at a scene. This time the information I got was rather accurate, except for PD Involvement which, thankfully, there was none. Continue reading “Living Someone Else’s Worst Day”→
by Kay Wilson-Bolton
Chaplain, Ventura County Fire Department
Observing others in grief can be as difficult as being in your own. The emotions for those standing by can range from fear, confusion, helplessness, anger, pity, frustration and deep sorrow.
Grieving is hard work, and its different for everyone. Ask the mother who never cried over the loss of four adult children and a granddaughter. Ask the long-married wife who cannot stop crying after the death of her husband. Ask the parents who just lost a newborn to SIDS death.
It’s difficult to know how to respond to people suffering grief. Those who are brave enough to speak often attempt to rationalize the death with personalized theological truths. Those who feel shy about reaching out to grieving people will avoid them altogether which can be as hurtful as saying the wrong thing.
If you plan to stay with the grieving person, don’t judge any behavior. If you want to be a friend in comfort, create an emotionally safe environment where anything goes and you are okay.
Most people know to never say, “I know how you feel.” No one can know how anyone feels. If it’s true, you can say, “I lost a daughter too. I know the pain.” However, give yourself permission to say nothing. Don’t compete with their grief. Your silence will be comfort enough, and you will know when it is time to speak. You can never really add value to sitting through a death by saying something. Your presence has its own value. Continue reading “Giving Grief A Chance”→
Those of us in public safety careers – law enforcement, fire service are usually gung-ho, Type A personalities, self-reliant, confident and sometimes even a little cocky. We love excitement. We feel there is nothing we can’t do; we’re self-important, helpers, fixers, we need to be needed, and we enjoy being the front-line of defense and first responders when something goes terribly wrong in our neighborhoods, our districts and our jurisdictions.
In the academy. we learn to be tough, to be a team player, to follow orders to the letter, to fit into the chain of command, to practice our particular skill sets until they become second-nature. During our years of service, we continue to train to be the best police officer, firefighter, or chaplain that we are capable of being. We learn about critical incident stress and how to manage it. We practice working under extreme stress. We train, train, and train some more. We are among the best of the best at what we do. Continue reading “Emotional Preparation for Retirement – Adjusting to Civilian Life for Public Safety Personnel”→
“God is in control.” This is such a simple statement, yet one that exhibits a deepening faith, which requires that I trust in the Lord with all my heart for every situation and circumstance. God has a master plan, a higher goal and a special purpose for my life.
His ways and thoughts are not my ways and thoughts. I may even fail to comprehend the path that I am following; but I must not lean on my own understanding. In all ways, I am to acknowledge Him for He is God, the Creator. He knew me before I was formed inside the very womb of my mother. He knows my thoughts before I ever speak a word. Nothing I do is hidden from His eyes. Continue reading “A Quiet Moment, God is in Control”→
Why is Dad So Mad? by Seth Kastle Company First Sergeant (retired) US Army Reserve
The children’s issues picture book Why Is Dad So Mad? is a story for children in military families whose father battles with combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After a decade fighting wars on two fronts, tens of thousands of service members are coming home having trouble adjusting to civilian life; this includes struggling as parents.
Why Is Dad So Mad? Is a narrative story told from a family’s point of view (mother and children) of a service member who struggles with PTSD and its symptoms. Many service members deal with anger, forgetfulness, sleepless nights, and nightmares.This book explains these and how they affect Dad. The moral of the story is that even though Dad gets angry and yells, he still loves his family more than anything.
About the Author: Through my 16 years in the Army Reserve I served in many capacities culminating in my role as a Company First Sergeant. I was deployed in January 2002 to Qatar, and then to Afghanistan for a total of eight months. I was then deployed to Iraq in January 2003 until April 2004. I have been married for nearly ten years now to my wonderful wife Julia, and we have two daughters; Raegan and Kennedy. The topic of dealing with PTSD as a parent is something that is very close to my heart. I have struggled with PTSD for ten years now, my daughters are young so who I am now is all they know. I wrote the book Why is Dad So Mad? to try to help them understand why I am the way I am now. This is not who I used to be, but it is who I am now; this is reality. More than anything I want my daughters as well as the children of other services members to know that no matter what we, as fathers love them more than anything. Things may not always be picture perfect , but as parents we will always be there for our kids. You may contact Seth through his website.
by Kevin Coffey
Chicago Fire Department Firefighter (retired)
How did you become a member of the fire service? The circumstances surrounding any one of us and how we found ourselves on our particular fire department are infinite. Perhaps firefighting was in your family, or perhaps you just had a fascination with the lights and sirens of passing fire trucks since you were a child. Maybe it was presented as an option at a high school career fair. It might be that you witnessed the towers fall on 9-11 and you just knew that the fire service was your destiny. And probably common to us all was a desire to help people in their times of emergency need. Continue reading “Called to Serve”→
We have recently experienced a seemingly large number of tragic events in the U.S. These include, but are not limited to, wild fires, the Oklahoma tornadoes, rail transportation accidents, the Boston Marathon bombings, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Super-storm Sandy, and hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and just recently the Colorado floods, and the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington.
These events are devastating, not only to individuals and entire communities, but also the society as a whole. Such events are difficult to process and challenge our resiliency, both as individuals and as a people. However, let us remember that we have overcome past tragedies, and with faith, optimism and action, we will overcome our present tragedies. Continue reading “Dealing With Tragic Events”→
We thank You for allowing us the privilege of living in a nation where we can worship You openly…. where we can stand up as individuals and even pray collectively… for our nation, for our leaders and for our people.
And, Heavenly Father, today I would like to offer up to You a special prayer – a prayer of protection for the men and women serving on the front lines of our city streets, LORD… the EMTs, the Paramedics, the Firefighters, the police officers, the deputy sheriffs, even the folks in the dispatch centers and the 9-1-1 call rooms… protect them from all harm, GOD! Continue reading “A Prayer for Emergency Responders”→
by Chaplain Ron Metts
Indian Field Fire Department
As firefighters, we tend to get numb to death and pain around us. We don’t show when something hurts or when we grieve. This is a hard fact for most people to understand, but anyone who has been a firefighter for more than a few months can well understand, and often see our grief, no matter how hard we try to hide it.
More often than not, we truly don’t feel much grief when it is a “civilian”. Especially when the civilian died at an age and in such a way that is unremarkable. We will tend to what needs to be done and rarely give more than a second thought to those they leave behind. Continue reading “Needless Loss”→