A Firefighter's Farewell: A Mindful Reminder

Friday was my husband's last day as a professional firefighter/ EMT.  We're making big changes this month and the decision to leave his job is one of them.  Just before he was to leave, Danny was nominated by a fellow firefighter to write a "blog post" to the others on "C shift."  This is an initiative begun by one of the Battalion Chiefs in the department to help connect crews, give people a voice, and help motivate his people.  Luckily, Danny's nomination perfectly coincided with his last few days on the job, so he used it not only to help encourage and motivate, but also to thank the people he's known throughout his time in the department for their hard work and dedication and to say farewell.  Here is his thoughtful post:

Danny, over five years ago, in his training academy

JULY 24, 2015

As I find myself sitting in the dispatch office of Station 11, on my last day of employment with the Fire/EMS Department, I cannot help but reminisce about my time and experiences. In a few short days, I will be accompanied by my wife, Julie, and our two dogs, Olive and Chloe, as we journey westward in search of new challenges. Before I make my departure, I would like to take this opportunity to condense the insights I have been presented with as they relate our collective experience together in this department. These insights are the product of time spent with my peers performing, arguably, the greatest job in the world.

Don’t get so caught up in your own little world. Your main priority, as it applies to this job, should be to simply have fun. Initiate some pranks on your coworkers, laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, bring a positive attitude with you to work each day and people will gravitate towards that thought process. Life is easier when you are having fun and, as a result, your job performance will improve. With that in mind, ask yourself what you can do today or next time you are on duty to spread a little joy to your shift mates.

A wise person once said, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We need to do a better job of looking out for one another and lending the proper support when we can. If your crew runs a challenging call and everyone performs well, take the time to congratulate each other and let your peers know they did an excellent job. It is easy to become immune to the sufferings of others by the very nature of what we do, but I urge you to remember that it is essential to show compassion to one another, because if we do not, who will?

Positive communication is a challenging skill to master. It requires courage to speak your mind and respect for the people that you are communicating with. I used to keep my concerns bottled up and they began to consume me. Through my time here, I have learned that is imperative to discuss issues with others as soon as they present themselves. Simply jotting down a few ideas on a scrap piece of paper and asking those around you for a meeting is a great start and a sure way to get the mutual respect of your peers.

I am thankful for my time spent in this county as a firefighter because of the awesome people I got to experience. We help people on the worst days of their lives and that job requirement has given me the perspective to look at my life with immense gratitude. Appreciate all that you have, because it could all be gone in an instant. With that said, I would like to show some gratitude to each and every member of this department by saying thank you so much for doing what you do with such a high level of professionalism.  It is truly incredible.

An admirable quality to have is the awareness of one’s own capabilities and limitations.  It is important for everyone to remember that the only person you need to compete with is yourself.  There is no need to look outside of one’s self to gauge his or her own strengths.  Healthy competition is essential for growth and progress, but when it affects your ability to develop relationships with your crewmembers and cooperate with others, your behavior should be evaluated.  For example, it’s great to stress the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle, but we don’t all have to be fitness all-stars.  We don’t all have to be the BEST at a particular skillset to try our hardest and work towards polishing that skill.  Remember, everything takes time and this leads me to my final pearl of wisdom, which has been my hardest virtue to attain: patience.

Patience, as it relates to the fire department, is essential, because we are serving others on their worst days.  If we incorporate patience in our daily lives, we will find a greater sense of peace, relaxation, renewed energy, and maturity.  To have patience is to place the needs of others before the needs of yourself, which as firefighters and EMTs, we are all very capable of doing.  Here’s a challenge to test your patience: practice thinking before you speak.  Sometimes, we say whatever comes to mind, but challenge yourself to take time to actually consider what you are saying or writing before you put it out there.  If you practice patience in your speech and when you interact with others, you will be more considerate of their feelings and circumstances.  From putting this into practice, congratulate yourself, because you have just become a more patient individual.

As I move forward, I will be forever grateful for my time spent in this county.  It’s been real; be good to one another.
What advice would you give your coworkers to help them be more balanced and happy before you left your job?

Labels: , , , ,