Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Captain Robert Paul

Another Fireman Story

I was sound asleep at Engine 23's when we got a run for a MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) with injuries just down the street. As we boarded the rig the night watchmen said he heard a car racing down the street just before the alarm came in. "This is going to be bad", he said.

We were on the scene in less than a minute. A car had been traveling down the road the road at a high rate of speed, lost control, went airborne, struck a huge oak tree, split the car in half spewing it's contents in every direction. We found four victims over a 40 yard radius. All were high school kids, All were critical. Very critical.

The boss that day was Capt. Bob Paul. As we approached the scene he immediately called for additional units including every Paramedic unit available and Flight for Life. It was a daunting scene. It was late night and raining, the car was in two pieces with many smaller pieces scattered about the front lawns where it landed. The kids were all over the place so we had to split up and share one med kit. Captain Paul kept us calm and organized as we triaged the patients. It was a few minutes before we got additional help. It seemed like hours. The scene soon became controlled chaos as we treated the kids, loaded some into ambulances and others in the the helicopter.

Kids are the hardest, as you treat the trauma you can't help but think of your own children and subconsciously work that much harder and faster. Bob Paul was a family man and perhaps was thinking of his kids when he was directing us at the scene that night. I know I was thinking of mine.

As usual an hour after the run it was as if it never happened.

Captain Paul was an unassuming man, not the swashbuckling firefighter type. He looked more like a math teacher than a firefighter. Yet he was a very competent fire fighter and an excellent boss. I liked working with him alot. He was good on runs and in the fire house. He was a good man.

I relayed this story to his teen age daughters shortly after his funeral. Bob died too young as many firefighters do. I explained to his kids that on that rainy night their dad took control of that scene and probably was the main reason those four kids are walking around today, most likely with kids of their own. I explained you don't have to run into burning buildings to save lives. Coming to work every day and doing the job to the best of your abilities will save lives. Bob Paul never earned any headlines in his career but I'm sure he was responsible for saving many lives.

Those four kids will never know of the man that saved them that night but I wanted Captain Paul's kids to know of that man. A fireman's fireman.

I developed a habit of saying a prayer when I was working on patients that were either dead or were about to be. I've said this prayer hundreds of times. This one is for Bob Paul.

May God embrace your soul and welcome you into his kingdom of heaven.