On public safety day for Gilbert Leadership, class members have the opportunity to tour some of the police and fire facilities and learn more about the first responder resources in our community. Late last Spring I had the privilege of participating in this event. It was exciting to tour the SWAT Humvees, play with bomb robots, and spray a fire hose. I felt a sense of pride thinking about my extended family and friends who serve as firefighters, medics, and LEOs.
During the tour something caught my eye; as I was exploring one of the ambulances, I noticed a set of body armor and a helmet lying on the ground. Curious, I asked one of the Fire Chiefs standing nearby if that was for his team or the cops. My heart sank when he shared it was for the fire and rescue department. In an era of riots and social unrest, it appears that even “non-combatants” are a target. Something about a rescuer being in danger of taking a bullet or a bottle to the head while providing care just rubbed me the wrong way. It’s bad enough that police have to be equipped with military style defenses, but that unarmed medics do too says something about our society.
In the weeks and months that followed, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to do something to support our first responders. Growing up, my father was the Sheriff of our county and my mother a dispatch supervisor, so I am keenly aware of the toll a career in public safety can take. Though I am not trained to provide the services that these ones provide, I have extensive training and experience in caring for people just like them. I have dedicated my life to providing psychological, social, and spiritual support to others, especially the ones caring for and protecting our community. So, several months ago I connected with the Chief whom I met through leadership and offered my services, pro bono.
I am beyond honored to have the opportunity to serve as a volunteer Chaplain with Gilbert Fire and Rescue. In my role as a Chaplain with Dignity Health, I have encountered many of these men and women in our local emergency departments. I am excited to help support and encourage them as they protect the lives, property, and environment of the people who live, work, play, and travel in Gilbert Arizona. Where they go, I’ll go. I’ve got their six.