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An Unlikely Hero

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As I approach the later years of my career, I have had my share of calls. I've seen the things I don’t care to see and I remember things I don't want to remember. In my current role as an EMS Training Officer, I don't face patients every day, but I do face the ones who do. I struggled with this for a long time, as I felt getting "out of the field" was the beginning of the end for me. I was not able to make the difference I knew I was making in peoples lives. Know one knew the protocols (and how to apply them) as I did, I knew my area, I had great relationships with all my allied agencies. I knew the medical director and he knew me by name, and as it would turn out, by my voice...I'd call in for a HEAR report and I’ll never forget hearing him answer "what you got, Mike?" It was like an angel on my shoulder.  Some years later, (it seems rather intuitive), I had a revelation about my current position. I may not care directly for patients anymore, but rather, I care for the ones who do. Once I settled into that mindset, I felt like I could focus all my attention on them and hopefully, a little of what I had would rub off on them and I would always have that connection. 

I want to introduce you to a friend of mine. Someone who like me, hasn’t been “on the street” in a few years…at least not like he used to be. Kevin worked his way up through the field, worked the wheelie vans, did his share of 911 and ultimately found himself in the comm center making a huge impact. Ultimately, he found himself as a supervisor, director and eventually in charge of the communications division on a national level. I haven’t seen Kevin in a couple years, but like most great friends, it doesn’t matter. His wife is on Facebook and I see his travels and adventures all the time, so I keep up. The last pics I saw was of him and his wife in Vegas getting ready to head to a concert. They had the typical Vegas selfie…the strip in the background and drinks in hand. Sort of made me jealous!  Who doesn’t dig on heading out of town and spending a few days in Vegas!  I knew they were headed off to the Route 91 Country Harvest music festival. I went about my day and never thought twice about Kevin and Elaine…that was until I received an alert of an active shooter event in Vegas….at that concert… Where my best buddy was. I sat up in a panic and sent a Facebook message (which given the circumstances, was super ridiculous) hearing nothing, I sent Kevin a text, which again, given the fact this had just kicked off was again, ridiculous. I sat up, as much of America had (and the world) that night and watched in horror as details emerged, I didn’t sleep well…and by the way, never heard anything from Kevin or Elaine.

My Message to Elaine

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My Text to Kevin....

 

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Early the next day, I checked Facebook and found that both Kevin and Elaine were ok, separated still, hours after the event, but were ok.  I was so relieved, as of course their families were…and so many that were not. My thoughts turned to the Police, Fire and EMS crews that had deal with the aftermath of a madman. The stories started pouring in about the bravery of the men and women who went towards the gunfire, while everyone else was running away. The actual agony of triage. Have you ever thought about that?  We practice and talk about it, but honestly, having to walk by a woman begging you to help her, but knowing at that moment, you can’t. It’s the thing career ending nightmares are made of because it’s what we do…we help.  

Among the stories of bravery, tragedy and sadness of the ones not coming home, was one about my friend. The man who took charge, the man who, like most of us, would shy away from the attention, but yes…Kevin did not run, he stayed. Not knowing if he was next, not knowing where the storm of bullets was coming from… stayed.  Knowing Kevin like I do, I’m sure his calm, reassuring demeanor shined through. I’m sure the people that stayed with Kevin felt better that someone was in charge. I’ve seen the video of Kevin in action... Can’t hear much more than gunfire, but I’m sure he was able to tell people what to do, where to go and how to help the injured.

Since then, many local stories have emerged about Kevin’s actions that night and as I figured he would do, deflects the credit to who he calls “his hero’s” the brave police who ultimately stopped the threat.

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What’s the point? I’m sure “the comms guy” never imagined he would be performing triage at a mass shooting…. but he managed it. Doesn’t matter how long he’s been off the streets… He made a decision to stay and be part of the solution while risking his own life.  Kevin wasn’t the only one that night who decided to stay and help. Stories of active duty military, Firefighters, nurses, doctors and everyday citizens who literally stole vehicles to load patients into, saved countless lives.

The difference? I know Kevin and he’s my hero. I am also keenly aware that he, and the others that stayed behind have a long road of recovery, nightmares and guilt headed right at them; for that I am so sad and scared. I cannot imagine what they went through. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the victims, the duty crews who made the best of a horrendous situation and my personal heroes, the ones who weren’t on duty, the ones who stayed behind to help for no reason other than at the core of our being, it is what we do. How many more would have died if not for the ones who did something. Ones who made a decision to act.

Those are the real heroes. 

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