I would have to believe that every man and woman going into the military, fire service or law enforcement is excited, and can’t wait to see action. I know when I got into the fire service that is exactly how I was.
After graduating the academy being placed at a station, I would work for people on other shifts just to get my hands dirty. I would fight as much fire as I possibly could or see some of the craziest things on the back of the ambulance.
My mind was always focused on more, more, more and not the toll everything was having on the families of people…much less the toll everything was taking on me.
I was excepted to the Technical Rescue Team about 4 years into my career, which was my ultimate goal as a career fire fighter. Hanging off ropes from the sides of buildings, rescuing people in swift water and just being apart of an elite team was everything I ever wanted.
As my career and training continued on the Rescue Team, I began to mature and realize that if you step back and see the bigger picture there is always an easier way to complete the task at hand, take a breath and follow your own lead. As time goes on you will begin to see your crew is actually following you as well.
Then you become the Captain’s Go-To Guy on the truck. Most of the time, the only thing he would have to do is give that look from the front seat…Game on!
I never knew it at the time but I was beginning to be humbled by the responsibilities of my job not only as a firefighter but also as a leader.
In the past 4 years since being injured, I have been slapped in the face several time by that word. Just like any slap in the face it hurts like hell and stings. Eventually the pain subsides but have learned a lesson.
My Captain on my truck has been one of the few to be there for me through all of the drama dealt to me. His best advise to me has been,
“Booger…you and I have been humbled by events on this truck, these young folks will not understand anything going on within you or me, and will not until they have been humbled…eventually everyone gets humbled.”
Sometimes no matter how hard you try to help people, teach them the lessons you learned the hard way, or being honest with them…they will never accept it until they have been humbled and are ready to hear it.
Until that time comes, the most humbling part of all of this for me is, I am now different in the eyes of those that have never been humbled. The only people that relate and understand what I go through are the “Humbled”.
This past weekend while tracking through the woods with Mija searching for a buddy who has been missing since November, really opened my mind up to all of this. My buddy was humbled in Afghanistan by an IED… He survived this but never recovered from the scars not seen.
For seven hours Mija, me, Tana, Rudy and a few others spent looking for this man to let him know, We, the ones that are covered in mud, soaking wet, tired and cold have been humbled and understand, you are not alone.
We were unable to find him Saturday but we haven’t given up our search for him.
Looking into the eyes his wife on Saturday morning before starting the search was extremely upsetting as I spoke with her.
Her eyes and face will always live in my mind but I will use it as motivation to push forward, and not give up on the “Humbled”.