As I was driving home along the quiet streets of the middle of the night from a medical call at 0330 (that’s 3:30 a.m.) recently, that old Army pitch came to mind: “Join the Army, See the World.”
We had been summoned to the bedside of an older man newly-confronted by a cardiac situation which has involved being cardioverted (shocked) two times in the past couple of weeks. When he awakened with that sense of a racing heart again, it was understandably freaky–especially in the wee hours of the night. I’m glad they called; it was reassuring to the family for our trained eyes to come as first responders and help him and his wife cope until the ambulance with its paramedics arrived.
Afterwards, the four of us who had gotten out of bed met up at Station #2 and rinsed the medical unit, then headed back to our homes and warm beds. As I drove, I pondered why I so love this work. That’s when the Army phrase lilted into my brain. Going to that particular address meant going up a private drive that I have passed multiple times every week for 17 years. It’s near my own home, at the top of a rise where I often see turkeys and deer crossing the rural gravel road. Beyond the mailbox and green street sign, the driveway takes a quick gentle right bend, and foliage obscures the view of what’s back there.
When working with the emergency services over the years, I have had the privilege (and sometimes horror) of witnessing so many different things: the deep recesses of private homes where only realtors and tradesmen ever go, penthouse office suites, skid row, industrial settings (including the roof of an elevator where a worker had been crushed), off-road and even wilderness settings. There’s no end to the variety one sees when answering a summons for emergency help.
Of course, whatever precipitated that summons is our primary objective. But now and then, as with this morning, there is the added benefit of satisfying my curiosity about a place. Although I was focused on the patient and honestly didn’t see much, just having the invitation to drive up that private lane was something I’d otherwise probably never get without my position with our local fire department.
So, if you’re a curious person, think about that slogan and adjust it slightly: Join the Fire Department, See the Township. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your right-here world.