This month brings more feedback from you, the readers of this column. The November 2005 editions of this column related tales of a minority of people among us who forgot the oath of duty they took upon joining our ranks. It challenged you not to allow the cancer of their apathy to grow. It asked how much you care.
Since its publication, I have received many positive replies. My questions hit home with many of you. It clearly shows that many do care. One firefighter took the time to write a poignant note. Here is Firefighter Velasquez’s feedback:
My name is Steven Velasquez. I'm in my 19th year of service (volunteer and career) as a firefighter and paramedic. I serve the citizens of the City of South Amboy in Middlesex County, NJ. Full time, I work for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.
Today, my ex-chief and I were kicking around the many frustrations that we experience with poor attitudes, turnout, retention etc... Mine is the voice of always lighting the fire from the bottom, finding new recruits, finding new enthusiasm among the current ranks; providing fertile ground for creative thoughts and ideas. His is the tired voice of "I've been the cheerleader for 24 year; let someone else deal with the frustration!" Though he barks, he is always there, always up for new technology, techniques etc... He's frustrated at the dilemma that seems to be pandemic throughout the fire and EMS services.
No sooner did our hours-long discussion take place, I open 1st Responder News and I peruse over to your page (one I always read). "Does anybody care?" in bold print across the top. You took the words right out of our collective mouths.
Sir, I commend you for striking the nail right upon the head. You usually do with your God-given talent as a journalist, but this time -- this time, your words revealed themselves to me/us right at a critical juncture. I guess now we need to come up with some solutions on correcting this problem.
Please continue doing what you do so well and know that you are greatly appreciated in our little hamlet by the bay.
City of South Amboy, NJ Fire Dept.
Thanks to Firefighter Steven Velasquez, City of South Amboy, NJ for sharing his feelings. It is clearly portrays one who does care and is not afraid to challenge apathy. Steve is right – it is time to come up with solutions on correcting our problems.
I invite everyone with a new idea, report, or question to write me. I promise to share it in this column. Excellence off the fireground can only be achieved with a vibrant dialog.
Remember the words of Harry Chapin’s song: “There’s something burning somewhere. Does anybody care? Does anybody care?”
Roger Busico is a 31-year fire service veteran. You can reach Roger at Roger.Busico@1stresponder.net.