Our Battalion Chief’s voice crackled over the radio, “Truck 6, Code 1!…Call Medflight, get them in the air!” An unmistakeable sense of urgency, something was very wrong…
On a warm August afternoon, almost a year ago now, a rescue operation unfolded unlike any I have ever been a part of.
Our town had already suffered two Heroes lost that summer, this would be number 3.
A red Chevy pickup sat alone at the bottom of the hill. The driver, our Deputy Chief, trapped inside.
The medics knew this was a call unlike any they had ever seen. Without missing a beat, they began their work; pushing IV’s, holding compression, comforting.
I dug the Jaws of Life cutters into the B post and twisted the trigger. Steel crunching, glass smashing, we made quick work of the roof. “Get me a sawzall!”, “I need another blade!” Without missing a step, behind me a sea of my brothers and sisters snapped into action. In the blink of an eye, a sawzall and fresh blades appeared. From the newest members, to the seasoned senior firefighters, we worked as a unit. Tunneling through the pickup, our mission was clear, free our Chief…
Everywhere you looked, a white shield, a white helmet. More officers than firefighters, yet not a single arguement or debate. Everyone knew what the goal was. Constantly evaluating and bouncing ideas off each other. Combined, easily over 100 years of experience surrounded our Chief.
Time felt like an eternity. I couldn’t cut fast enough… A thought which would stick with me, what could I have done different?
As I made the final cut with the Jaws of Life, an image which haunts me to this day, our Chief was finally free…
We laid our Chief to rest the next Tuesday on a warm September day.
In the months that followed, I reflected quite a bit. I came to the conclusion that I was exactly where I was supposed to be that afternoon. We gave it hell, leaving it all on the table. I am, without a doubt, extremely lucky to be able to learn from and work with these men and women every day.
People cope in different ways. Some turn to alcohol. Some hold it all in forever. Some seek professional help.
I chose to write about that warm August afternoon.
Deputy Chief Frank Sousa – November 13, 1964 – August 27, 2015.