A Melbourne Night

I walked from Bourke
Past multiple blue flashes
Of tram wires arcing
Plaques on walls
Descriptive, yet cryptic.

Wine bars
Other assorted venues
Some Medical,
Some medicinal
Some Arcane and
Some archaic.

I stopped
Room repeated
Any city, any place
Except for the sound
Of click clack
And bell passing
Tracing the the tram track

Being Grateful and wanting that for others

This post is about being grateful….and wanting that for others. (However, I must make a VERY clear disclaimer here… the thoughts in this, and most likely a couple of follow-up posts, are MY thoughts, and NOT the official position or my employer)

Due to the many hats I have worn across my life I have the absolute pleasure and privilege of working alongside, with, for and on behalf amazing people like Firefighters, Ambos, Police, Doctors, Nurses, Allied Health and literally every associated profession, including cleaners, porters, administrative people etc that make a positive and ongoing contribution to the lives of people EVERY day. They all do it with out expectation of anything … simply because they are great people doing important stuff on behalf of others.

Today, I was celebrating a fellow firefighters birthday. A few drinks and feed. Then this beautiful women (no not my wife … on the left of the picture, but the one on the right in the red vest) wandered in. It is incredibly hard to explain just how much Maggie means to me and my family. This blog… really starts with the post how did I get here, and Maggie is a big part of that story. Running into Maggie today has resulted in a big chunk of reflection, and the shedding of a few tears, as I have thought about that day, the following years and the challenging experiences that came with them.

I will never get over the strength and tenacity that my wife showed on the day of Samuel’s accident. I will forever be grateful for that strength and tenacity, and her presence of mind in making an additional Triple Zero phone call and asking for a response of Firefighters as well as the Ambulance.  I will forever be grateful for our neighbours that assisted with the initial CPR and  for my fellow firefighters from 98 Stn who arrived on scene as the first emergency responders. I will for ever be grateful for Maggie, who was the first Ambulance officer to get to Samuel, to scoop him up and start our interaction with the NSW Health System. I will also be for ever grateful for the hundreds of people who then interacted with my family to care for and support Samuel and the rest of my family.

Twelve years ago, due to the strength and tenacity of my wife’s presence of mind to make an extra Triple Zero phone call, my family had access to a crew of Firefighters who trained in Basic Life Support and Advance Resuscitation, who had a truck with equipment on in it that could assist in an immediately life threatening condition like Samuel’s non-fatal drowning experience, AND they were the first ones on scene to begin providing support to Samuel and my family.

While I have written this… I’ve also been actively reflecting on just how far I should take this post…. I think on reflection that I am not going to go as far as my first thoughts… but I will leave it here, with a disclosure and a couple of questions. While I ponder how to further address the associated issues in an ethical and proper way.

Disclosure: Within my professional role I have been responsible for working on a proposed dual response model that would potentially see Firefighters responding with Ambulances to Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest calls.

The Questions: 

  • Why because of the presence of mind of my wife, and my association with a fire service, did MY family have access to a crew of firefighters and equipment that could save a life
  • Why twelve years later, does the public that I and my fellow firefighters serve NOT have the privilege of access to the same level of service
  • How many people could be walking around, or be having a reasonable quality of life, as opposed to being dead, if they had the same access to services as my family?

I know, there are HUNDREDS of questions that people can, and will ask about my families circumstances and the difference regarding availability of services.  I know, that there are hundreds of statements and arguments about “whose job is it really”, and what the REAL problem is about responding in a timely manner to medical emergencies in the community. I know there are questions about pay, about processes, about support for firefighters etc…. I know that there are hundreds of questions about the chances of people surviving, questions about increased exposure of firefighters to trauma, and about quality of life and length of survival for those who need help….   I may address these in follow-up posts… but I need to do more thinking first.

This question though, that is over-riding in my head is this……

“if it was you… or your loved one, wouldn’t you want the nearest, fastest and suitably equipped and trained response to give you or your loved one the best possible chance of survival?”

That little act of kindness in the midst of chaos

They are simple words, however they can really mean a huge amount to someone!

I have had what many around me have described as “a very tough week”. I know that the week has had an effect on me… a couple of sleepless nights, a couple of headaches. There has been some fairly extensive active reflection going on in the middle of these circumstances, ensuring that I’m being consistent with my framework for how I wish to live my life, and that the actions that I am taking around the circumstances are in the best interests of everyone involved in them.

One key observation I can make is that while intellectually I’m pretty sure I’m in an OK place around the circumstances of this week, the physical symptoms are telling me that there is definitely a gap between where my head is at, and the realities of the stress that the situation is creating. Being aware of this is invaluable, because it is a reminder that I have to look after myself in the middle of all this, and that I’ll know when I’m back in balance.

You are probably wondering why though this post is titled “that little act of kindness in the midst of chaos?”

The week has been filled with contact points with others who know what is going on and have looked out for me, and enquired about how I am going in the circumstances. That type of support is always appreciated. However it was another little act of kindness that really hit me in the midst of this weeks chaos.

A  firefighting colleague, who is no longer in the firefighting industry,  who I have not seen or had any real contact with for a LOT of years,  reached out on Linkedin by endorsing me for some skills. A little random act of professional kindness, which I immediately sent a thank you message for…. but that was not the powerful act…. it was what followed.

Several minutes later my phone rang, and it was that  colleague who reached out to say thank you. Initially it was a thank you around the story of how I got here on this blog and the work of the Samuel Morris Foundation. He let me know that via a completely unknown connection he had been informed of the impact that our work in the drowning prevention space had on this unknown contact, and he wanted to say thank you for those efforts and the difference they make, to that person and to the broader community. Then he went further, and he referred back to some ancient history of us as fellow firefighters and a particularly traumatic set of circumstances that he had found himself in professionally all those years ago. He acknowledged that one night in the midst of his own little piece of chaos I had picked up the phone and rang to check on his welfare and he wanted to say THANK YOU for all the difference that made to him in that moment.

There is no way that this colleague could have known about the circumstances of this week, or the impact that his little act of kindness via an endorsement and a phone call would have on me today in the midst of my own little piece of chaos. However, those little words that he started and ended our conversation with THANK YOU have had a big positive impact on my day.

My question to you  is…… how often do you say THANK YOU with some real meaning? Is there someone you can think of today, that reaching out and saying THANK YOU for something they have done for you (even if it was 20ish years ago!) would be valuable (because you never know what might be happening for that person right now!).

THANK YOU, for taking the time to read this post…. now go say THANK YOU to someone who made a difference for you!