Fire Fighters Association of Missouri

History’s Corner – March 2016


History-03-2016All of us who have been in this business for any length of time have had hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities to assist the folks that we protect from harm. Many of those opportunities turn out exactly like we want them to and everyone lives happily ever after. Sadly, we are in a business that also provides situations that, even though we do everything we can do, the results are tragic.

All of us also have responded to emergency situations that stick in our memory and haunt us because we continue to replay the circumstances and evaluate how we could have had a more positive outcome. It is imperative, for our own mental health, to move forward and look ahead to the next emergency response and pray that our training and experience will allow us another positive outcome.

I have also wondered many times how the folks we go to help feel about the day they found it necessary to call and ask for assistance. It is true and a fact, that we move from one call to the next, and one day to the next, and in most cases, we don’t look back. It’s an impossibility to follow up on each victim and each situation we encounter. I do believe however, that the individual receiving the care will remember that day, because for them, it is a significant emotional event!

It is with this thought in mind that I share this story. Some of the readers of this column know my family background but for those who do not, my Son Doug is an Assistant Chief with the Boone County Fire Protection District in Columbia. He is the fourth generation of the five generations of my family who have dedicated their lives to helping folks as a member of the Missouri Fire Service.

This last Fall, I got a call from Doug and he told me he had just finished a wildland fire call in North Boone County and when he finished he was talking with the property owner, who recognized his name and asked how long he had been on the fire department, to which Doug answered around forty years. He then said “and your Dad was the fire chief also, right?” Doug said “yes” and the gentleman then said, “tell your Dad thank you for saving my life!”

Needless to say, Doug was a little taken back by the statement and asked him to elaborate. After Doug told me the story, I did remember the response and Doug was with me when went to the house on a gun-shot call. I am fairly sure that Doug did more to save the young man’s life than I did because he was a new EMT in 1979, but as usual, the fire chief gets all the credit!

At Christmas time this year I received the following wonderful letter from Mark Baker. I asked him in a note back if I could share this heartwarming account in this article. It is my hope that this will prove that folks never forget what you do for them when that tone goes off in the middle of the night to go help them. It has been 36 years and it is quite clear that Mark has not forgotten his experience! Keep up the good work that you all do and be safe doing it.