Yesterday, I attended the memorial service for Paramedic Michael Wilder, on behalf of AMR Fremont County. Some think the drive to Rawlins isn't particularly scenic, but I tend to look for the beauty in everything, especially when there are mountains "in the middle of nowhere"...and the sky? Oh, always the sky! It has become my "religion" now, to celebrate life and to stop to wonder at all of the People, Places and Things that are so much bigger than me...just spend a few minutes to enjoy, celebrate, meditate, contemplate...
Split Rock was especially beautiful that morning, so I stopped to take a photo:
Good thing I left a bit early, because I hit some pretty big bad patches of road and blowing snow right before driving into Rawlins. I was glad to be in AMR's command vehicle instead of my little Prius, because I know for a fact that it wouldn't have made it through, as the highway was literally piled with a good 5-6 inches of unshoveled snow and ice, and a big, bitter wind (I was told 50+ mph) blowing the icy snow made for very poor visibility Even in the command ride, I slipped a bit...there was a big rig in front of me, so I cautiously stayed a good distance behind and crawled the rest of the way.
Participating in the Procession through Rawlins and the lineup at the service brought back memories of when I represented the Tennessee Marine Family at the service of a Fallen Hero ("Remembering Our Fallen"). Mike Wilder's service was beautiful, and though I didn't know him personally, I felt a big lump in my throat and tears come to my eyes as I listened to the words spoken by Wyoming EMS Director Andy Gienapp describe all of our First Responders...and the crews at AMR Fremont County, whom I've come to know and love:
"...In many ways, it's not an easy decision to enter a profession in public safety. If you doubt me on this...imagine a law enforcement officer standing alone while someone points a gun in your face. Imagine yourself at the nozzle-end of a hose as you pause before entering a house with flames coming through windows and the roof. And now, imagine someone looking at you in desperation as their loved one lies on the floor, hoping against hope that you will be the one working a miracle.
Those are powerful and frightening images, and they've stopped many from pursuing these careers. But for Mike, like all of us who do this work, I also know that it was an easy decision.
You see, there's only one thing that brings a person like Mike through a career in EMS, or fire fighting or law enforcement...and that is the idea that a life of service to one's family and friends and community is of unimaginable value. That there are things which exist that are bigger than you are...and that to be counted among the men and women who do this work every day is something to be cherished.
It's the thread that unites all of us dedicated to public safety, and we may disagree or poke fun at each other...but when the alarm bell sounds, and the tones drop, and the radio crackles to life...we know that we are inextricably linked to each other.
Mike didn't know the people who were injured in that crash, and neither did he ask. He simply went. You see, that is what we do. We simply go. Day or night, summer or winter...to the next person who is lost, the next fire, the next crash, the next burglar alarm, the next domestic violence encounter, the next person struggling with depression or addiction, the next injured child, the next homeless person, the next person with a mansion, the next politician, the next factory worker, the next stay at home mom or dad...students and teachers, ranchers, miners, business owners...the next call for help.
We simply go.
How do you pay Mike back for a life of simply going? I don't think that you do. All of the flowers and ceremony and words and pomp and circumstance don't equate to Mike saying, "Here am I...send me."
So no, I don't think you pay Mike back. You simply say, "Thank you."