I Got To Spend Time With Heroes

This past week I spent my days in the booth for Pathfinder Resilience at the Atlanta EMS World Expo. I  got to hang with heroes.

What kind of heroes?  The kind who were on duty for FDNY on 9/11. Joseph Hudak was kind enough to spend a long time talking to me and not once, not a single time, did he tell me who he was or why I should buy him all the beer he could ever drink. Nope, a humble, nice guy who was more concerned with how the people he trained and worked with were treated than any accolades.

I also Fan-boyed the women of the Patterson Fire Department. Now, why would I do that?  I loved watching them on LIVE RESCUE on A&E. I thanked them all and they were kind enough to chuckle and tell me in a lilting southern drawl that they weren’t from “that Patterson.” Oh. I meant Patterson, NJ. They laughed as they told me about all the other fan-boys who had thanked them and talked about their awesome dept. Instead, I realized that these three under-thirty women risked their lives as volunteers for their department. That’s pretty humbling. And they were sweet about it. Every time we ran into each other for the next two days we all smiled and waved.

So, what were we doing there?  Pathfinder Resilience  is the real deal in getting first responders up to speed in their ability to deal with trauma. Other programs all deal with it after the fact and try to “fix” broken people. We layer on the armor inside and out, and get them toughened up and smartened up to either avoid the bad things through mental agility, or to know how to “swim to the side of the pool” when they’re thrown into the deep end.

I love my job. I am so blessed to do this work. And after talking to dozens of people from different departments this week, it was clear to me that we are needed. I saw the pain in eyes, both young and old, male and female, as they told me their stories of trauma. Mind you, this is from people who aren’t big on sharing with outsiders. But I guess they trusted me because I look like Santa and shared my story with them.

If you are a first responder, the parent of a first responder, or the spouse of one – or the child of one – and want to talk about what we do to help them, shoot me a comment on the blog. Mark it personal and I’ll get back to you. 

We not only work with departments, but we work with individuals. Our goal is to lower depression and PTSD for our first responders, and take suicide off the table.

I honestly can’t wait for every class I mentor. I’m now the Senior Mentor, and I train the trainers. What a ride. I get paid to help people get better. 

Hug your first responder today. They need it!

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Joseph Courtemanche

About Joseph Courtemanche

I'm a conservative Christian author who's been happily married for over 30 years. I am a Veteran of the United States Navy, Naval Security Group. I speak a few languages, I have an absurd sense of humor and I'm proud to be an American.


I Got To Spend Time With Heroes — 1 Comment

  1. My niece is a firefighter and paramedic. She’s got three more years on the job until she hits the magic 55, at which time she will have put in 33 years.

    She’s been injured on the job several times and has required surgery to patch her up. Unfortunately, she copes with the stress with vodka and cigarettes. Oh, and horses. She’s got a wall full of ribbons for equitation and barrel racing.

    Her house is the Franksville,Wisconsin Fire Department.