Monthly Archives: March 2012

I wish you could know

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 it is too late.
But wanting his wife and family to know everything possible was done
to try 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 that I’ve become too familiar

I wish you could read my mind as I respond to a building fire “Is this
false alarm or a working fire? How is the building constructed?
What hazards await me? Is anyone trapped?”
Or to call, “What is wrong with the patient?
Is it minor or life-threatening? Is the caller really in distress
or is he waiting for us with a 2×4 or a gun?”

I wish you could be in the emergency room as a doctor pronounces dead
the beautiful five-year old girl that I have been trying to save during
the past 25 minutes. Who will never go on her first date or say
the words, “I love you Mommy” again.

I wish you could know the frustration I feel in the cab of the engine,
squad, or my personal vehicle, the driver with his foot
pressing down hard on the pedal, my arm tugging again and again at the air horn
chain, as you fail to yield the right-of-way at an intersection or in
traffic. When you need us however, your first comment upon 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
teenage years from the remains of her automobile. “What if this was my
daughter, sister, my girlfriend or a friend? What were her parents
reaction going to be when they opened 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 parents and 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 and EMT’s
out and when we call for them and our heart drops because no one answers back
or to here a bone chilling 911 call of a child or wife needing assistance.

I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally,
and sometimes physically, abuse us or belittle what I do,
or as they express their attitudes of It will never happen to me.

I wish you could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain or missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities,
in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen.

I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life or
preserving someone’s property, or being able to be there in time of crisis, or
creating order from total chaos.

I wish you could understand what it feels like to
have a little boy tugging at your arm and asking, “Is Mommy okay?”
Not even being able to look in his eyes without tears from your own and
not knowing what to say. Or to have to hold back a long time friend who
watches his buddy having CPR done on him as they take him away in the Medic
Unit. You know all along he did not have his seat belt on. A sensation
that I have become too familiar with.

Unless you have lived with this kind of life, you will never
truly understand or appreciate who I am, we are, or what our job
really means to us…
I wish you could though.
author unknown

Courtesy of Palmayra Township FD

Somtimes you just don’t know.

Answers. We all want answers. Everyone in my life wants answers. New loan officers learning our system want answers. My wife wants to know why the email looks different after I reloaded Windows. Michael wants to know why he has to do homework. The kids at Church want to know why they should listen. My dog wants to know why I won’t let her in the bedroom at night. And my cat, well she’s too lazy to have questions.

But those are easy questions with easy answers. I like that. Easy answers don’t leave me struggling to find balance. But the last few weeks, there are questions that don’t have easy answers. First there were the tornadoes. We know all the scientific facts, but the questions that are asked in the aftermath, there aren’t easy, un-complicated answers.

Then tonight, at the viewing of a fiend, there are more questions. I have a friend who is just a super person, but has really bad things going on in her life right now. I have other friends whose bodies aren’t working the way they should. And the world has lost a great person, leaving a wife and 2 children to grasp what life will be like without dad in their lives. I attempted to tell a small boy (who should not have to understand) how he can miss his dad, grieve and be strong all at the same time.

Then, I have my own questions, very few of which I go into in a public setting. Then I’m left to grapple with the pain of the people that I love and serve, the police and firefighters.

I need some answers. They need some answers. Who has those answers?

We have a story in the Bible about serious questions in John 11.

1Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. 2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, β€œAre You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, β€œGo and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

John has questions about Jesus. Jesus had answers, and the answers he had was good enough for John. John was eventually beheaded in prison, and those answers sustained his faith in who Jesus said he was. If it’s good enough for John, it’s good enough for me. And it’s good enough for you.

So to my friends, I know how real your pain is. I know that sometimes it’s hard to go into another day. But in Jesus I’ve found that while I may not have all the answers, He does. And He will bring you through if you trust in Him. It may not be easy, but He will help.

My report on the Kentucky Tornado of 3/2/2012

First I want to say thanks to some people.

I had tons of co-workers and friends who checked in on my and left me messages of encouragement.

My Church who covered me with prayer.

A huge thanks to my wonderful wife keeping things running in Ohio while I was in Kentucky helping do what I could. I love you bunches.

My son who missed his daddy terribly, but understood that sometimes helping people means sacrifice to you.

And my Kentucky family. My parents, sister and mamow and rest of my family. They have so little time to see me and allowed me to devote so much time to the people of the area…most of whom they don’t even know.

Finally, to the Deputies, fire fighters, EMS, and Emergency Management staff in the affected areas, you are a true inspiration. I’ve always said you are heroes, but the sacrifices you made (and continue to make) go beyond words. I’ve often said it but it bears repeating You guys are heroes. I don’t know how often you hear it, but I’m certain that it’s not nearly enough.

OK, on with the show. πŸ™‚

On Friday March 2, 2012 at around 6 PM, a tornado started ripping through Menifee County, making it’s way through West Liberty in Morgan County, Salyersville in Magoffin County among other places. It was on the ground for around 75 miles and did major damage. In Menifee County alone, over 50 residences were impacted at the estimated cost of over one million dollars. Some of these people were too poor for insurance. Some people had only minor damage. Some lost everything. Even though the three counties have a combined population of just under 34,000 people, only 16 people lost their lives (3 in Menifee, 12 in Morgan, and 1 in Magoffin). While that number itself is tragic, it could have been MUCH worse.

Since I’m from Menifee County, it was had to sit in Huber Heights, OH and know that people from my hometown were fighting for their lives. It’s a helpless feeling. As I heard the reports trickle in via WKYT, then heard the report of West Liberty being “complete devastation”. Once I confirmed that my family were all OK, I had to make the decision. I decided to go.

So on Saturday March 3, I headed for Kentucky. I had taken some FEMA courses on disaster area and Incident Command, but had no idea what I would really be facing. I spent Saturday with my family and we surveyed the damage, at least what we were allowed to see. Then I attended church and had lunch on Sunday. But I HAD to help “my guys”. I talked with Sheriff Coffey of the Menifee County Sheriff’s Office. That’s when I got in a MCSO cruiser. I must say that since I really began my ministry to officers and firefighters back in 2008, I had been looking to help out Menifee County guys, so I was really glad I got this opportunity. From 3 PM-6 PM I rode along and helped make deliveries, and patrol the hardest hit areas of Menifee County, the areas that most people are still not allowed into yet. From 6-8 I helped out at the Menifee County Emergency Operations Center, than back on patrol from 8 PM to 4 AM.

I want to take a side note and say that those Deputies are just amazing. To drive those roads with cars that are close to being worn out. To work every day with their nearest back up 45 minutes away. To try to fix your own patrol car to save the county money and ensure your own safety. Applying for grant after grant after grant to equip your staff as best as you can. I have to say, if I ever hand-picked a police department, I know where I’d get some great officers.

Monday I was with a deputy from the Scott County Sheriff’s Office who volunteered to work in the area. We helped deliver food and needed supplies to residents who were unable to leave, and to the large number of electric workers in the area. After getting done there, I drove to Ezel to check on one of the fire departments in the area. For seeing what they had seen, they were doing surprisingly well. It was then I was asked if I wanted to go to West Liberty. I’m not going to lie, I had to think for a minute or two. I didn’t know how I would react at the sight of the devastation. We weren’t even real sure if they could get me into the town since it was being completely blocked off by the Kentucky State Police. But I could not say no, since I have crews who were having to still work in the midst of the destruction.

I prayed the entire way down there. I started with the EMS and fire crews in town and talked with them. At this point, I felt more confident than ever that West Liberty would not only rise from the rubble, but it would be better. It will take time, but these guys were dedicated. The spirit of the town was unbreakable. It pained me to see the town I know in rubble, but it is in great hands. I was able to talk to Chief Hensley for a few moments, and pledged to help in any way I could. They have my Cell number and said they could call me anytime. On my way back I stopped at the Menifee EOC and advised of the WLPD and MCSO status.

I spent the entire day Tuesday manning the phones at the Menifee County EOC. I was amazed at the outpouring of aid and labor from across the state, and even as far away as Charleston, West Virginia! But even more amazing was the dedication of the Menifee County Fire District. These guys are 100% volunteers. They would work, come in and do whatever needed to be done, and maybe get an hour or two of sleep before doing it again. What a crew! I can not say enough about these guys. Amazing.

Wednesday I went to Salyersville, in Magoffin County. Menifee and Morgan County were declared natural disasters by the President, but seems that Magoffin County was not. So I made the 60 mile drive to Salyersville. There was just as much devastation here as in West Liberty. Also the same was the spirit to fight through this. Band together and be stronger. I talked at length with the Salyersville Fire Chief, a Salyersville Police Department Officer, and the Chief Deputy for the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office. The resolution that they had in the face of the disaster was inspiring. I gave them my information and advised that I would have folks checking in on them to see if their departments needed anything. (At this point I also want to say that I have some great “Facebook Friends” who wanted to partner up with these agencies.) I returned to the Menifee EOC and updated the EOC and Sheriff Coffey. Then on Thursday I left to come back to Huber Heights.

Sometimes I had been teased about coming from Eastern Kentucky, and I think I’ve heard every “hillbilly joke” there is. But I’d stack these guys against anybody. I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of “where I come from”.

On a more reflective note, there’s a quote by author Joseph Campbell, and it goes like this: “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” I found this to be true in more ways than one. I’ve seen people who by most standards are “poor” who were so giving to others, that it was touching. People helping out in spite of pain, worry and fear. Sometimes we forget how minor problems at home or work really are until we see how bad something could be.

I know this was rather long, but it was therapeutic for me. Then there’s another reason. Dr. Greg Williamson shared a story in a class that I took that I never really forgot (seems he likes U2).

Shortly after the 1985 Live Aid concert, which raised more than $200 million for food aid to Africa, Bono and his wife, Ali, visited Ethiopia. They saw how quickly even $200 million in aid was depleted.

“We promised that we would never forget what we had been through,” he said in a recent speech. “But of course, we did.”

I write to never forget. I write so people will know that the greatest people aren’t athletes, American Idol winners, or movie stars. It’s the people who give so freely, and most aren’t even paid to do it. I write to always remember the sacrifices that some of the greatest people I have ever met made that day, and make everyday of their lives.