Yesterday in Colorado Springs, Colorado, new names were added to the EMS Memorial. At 7 pm, there was a moment of silence that I especially partook in this year, and had a great cry about it. While I would mourn the loss of any EMS provider, Fire Fighter, or Police Officer, this year was especially hard on me.
I knew one of the people who were being added.
He was my supervisor, a great man who built a service around volunteering. Even though the service began to pay some of their employees, many there stayed as volunteers for the good of the area. The area was one that outsiders drove past quickly with their windows up, doors locked, and eyes on the road ahead without even offering a glance to the city. Other EMS services would hesitantly come in, not even wanting to get out of the truck at night because of how bad it was and had gotten.
He held "First, do no harm..." near and dear to him. He attended every con-ed class he could, and if con-ed hours rolled over like cell phone minutes, he would never have had to take another con-ed hour for the rest of his life.
His life ended suddenly while on a call. His own service and many others; the ones who couldn't be bothered to come in on any other call answered the call that night on that roadway. All in all, twenty pairs of hands touched him, waging their war against the inevitable. A set of Flight Nurses and Flight Medics were called in, and they used their quick response vehicle to arrive at the scene, trying to lend a hand.
He was taken by his own company, his own hand picked crew that he spent months, if not years getting to know. In the hospital, the efforts continued, Medics, EMT's, Nurses and Doctors fighting together. 110% was given, if not more. Drugs were pushed, chests were compressed, everything was done and then some. No one wanted to stop, but we all knew what the outcome was going to be. The doctor ended the code at 2213, after his family, both by blood and by profession had gathered. That dark night, the world slowed for a moment, then continued its lazy orbit.
That world was changed for forever in that moment. A great man had fallen.
The next days for that service were filled with anguish. The service never stopped rolling. The crew that only moments before had worked feverishly on their comrade, answered the next call in his memory. The minute the tones went off, the doors to the bay went up and the big, white box went out the door. Other services volunteered their time and staff, helping to keep the station staffed so that the crew could go to the viewings.
The community pulled together. Honor guards were present at every moment. Those who knew him barely left the funeral home. The crew who worked him held the hollow look of a survivor of something so devastating. Most of them stood guard at the casket, tears streaming down their faces as they stood at attention.
The funeral was a rainy, cold day. The four on the crew were secluded in their own corner, trying to keep their emotions in check. The funeral went on, not a dry eye in the place. The ride to the cemetary was full of ambulances, fire engines, and police cars, all with their lights on, all with their sirens on in a final salute. They rode, sending their brother to the other side in a fitting tribute to the great man that his newest ambulance carried.
The bagpipes blew at the gravesite, the twenty one gun salute piercing the ears and minds of those present. Not a dry eye was to be had the entire time. How do I know all this, you ask?
I. was. there.
I was one of those four who worked on him in the dead of night. I was the crew cheif, the supervisor of the day. I had just talked to my supervisor two hours before after he stopped up at the station to check on his "babies". We exchanged pleasentries, and as he was leaving, he thanked me for all I was doing for the company. He shook my hand and departed. The next time I saw him, I was working on him.
I couldn't function. I broke my own rule about not drinking alcohol when stuff went bad. My crew and I hit a bar that catered specifically to those in public safety, having odd hours at which they opened. We sat around a table, haunted looks on our faces. I went straight for the hard stuff, Johnnie Walker Black Label. I rolled the ice around in my glass, my eyes foggy. We didn't talk to each other, we felt as if there was nothing to say.
Other providers from all sectors of public safety including in hospital workers came trickling in. They would glance over in our direction and nod silently. News traveled fast, especially since it was all over the 5, 6, and 7am morning news. Some came over and spoke in hushed tones, others just nodded in our direction. The death was the talk of the county by that point; everyone knew about it.
The bartender, Zac, came over as the news came on, showing our faces as we walked from our station. The caption read that we were the ones who worked on our boss. Silently, he went back to the bar, pulled down the bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label and came over, pouring each of us around.
"On the house, guys. Looks like you had a bad night."
We all looked at our glasses and raisied them.
"To C-1. God Speed my friend." I said quietly.
"To C-1.." Came the reply.
We all drank in silence.
To C-1, God Speed my friend. You were the best boss a girl could ask for. I was honored that I had the opportunity to work side by side with you. God Speed, my frend
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'