The Emergency Worker’s Paradox

Whether you are a pro or a volunteer, most emergency workers surely know the following dilemma:

after finishing your training or a seminar or maybe you just practised something during a meeting or … AND – let’s be honest – it was fun. And – at least I hope so – the work in the service is fun. Well, I’ll just write from my point of view from here. That’s easier 😉

I joined the firefighters as a volunteer. I had basics training – and

  • the first time up a ladder on the roof? FUN!
  • the first simulation of rescuing somebody from second floor? FUN! I can do it! At least I can pretend I can do it…
  • the first time opening a car with hydraulic rescue tools? FUN! I can cut metal! I can open a car as if it was just some soft stuff! (I sometimes fail opening food cans!)

And I want to do it again, I want to put what I’ve learned into practise. I want to use my new skills and I want to gain experience, so I can become good at what I do – or am supposed to do.

And here comes the not-so-fun-part: practising my skills means somebody’s house is burning, somebody had a car crash and probably lots of other bad things happening to people.

Talking about that with other emergency workers is often not too problematic. Most of them know this feelings and thoughts and they just see another newbie.  They know, that will go away. And I always make a point of saying, I’m fine with being told half way to the fire that the cook resolved the problem with his omelette is better than having to dig corpses from the ruins of a burnt house or something.

But talking to people outside the emergency services can be really difficult. Even though I am really really emphasising that I don’t want people to get hurt or loose their homes, lots of people scold me for wishing others bad. But I really don’t! Still I’d like to become a good firefighter. And for that, I will have to put out fires and rescue people from car wrecks.

And that’s the emergency worker’s paradox: we want to be good, and we want to love the job we’re doing, but for that bad thing s have to happen to people.

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2 thoughts on “The Emergency Worker’s Paradox

  1. Some firefighters have too much fun and tend to set fires on purpose. They believe them selves very important, when extinguishing their own fires. As long as you don’t do so, you don’t need to worry.

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