I remember the moment clear as day when I finally understood the true meaning of what it takes to be a firefighter.
I attended a medical call that was for an elderly gentleman who had a heart attack at the nursing home he resided in. We did CPR and defribrillated to no avail. He didn't make it. The gentleman had no friends or surviving family. And in times like this I think of the people I love and how I don't ever want them to die alone. And since big girls don't cry my skin grew another millimetre thicker. But then the big tough firefighter I did CPR with did something that took me by surprise. When the doctor arrived to pronounce, this firefighter gave the gentleman a pat on the shoulder and with a quiet smile, whispered 'have a safe journey home'. And even though no one knew or cared that this gentleman had passed away, this one firefighter did. And humbled by the compassion of my colleague, I let myself shed a quiet tear on the ride back to the fire station because in that moment I saw a hero perform an action so great even though it would never make the front page news.