By Rob Evans
Sept. 15, 2015, Redwood Meadows, Alta. – Reflection. It is a word that I heard a lot this past Friday on the 14th anniversary of the attacks on the United States.
Fourteen years ago our 4-year-old boy Alex watched with us as the horror unfolded and started referring to it as the United States attack. Now, we know that there were 2,977 people from more than 90 countries killed in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pa.; it was truly an attack on the world.
The number that we, as firefighters, all remember is the 343 FDNY members who paid the ultimate sacrifice on that horrific day, but there were also other first responders: two paramedics (included in the 343 but should be mentioned separately, as well as eight paramedics from private companies), 72 law enforcement officers and 55 military personnel who also ran in while others ran out. On that Tuesday morning on Sept. 11, 2001, I remember getting out of bed in time to watch the second tower being hit by the huge jetliner. I stood in the middle of the living room frozen in disbelief as the first tower fell and then the second, not knowing the exact numbers but understanding fully that there would be many first responders dying while the world watched.
Never forget: two simple words that mean so much to so many, and while we won’t forget, is it time that we move on? Many departments have yearly memorials for all firefighters at about this time of year. Canada’s own national firefighter memorial weekend always falls around the 9-11 weekend. Last year I was able to attend the ceremony in Ottawa for the first time and while the event had sombre moments, it was also a time for brothers and sisters to get together and remember many good times. Volunteer or paid, management or the floor, private or municipal, it did not matter – that weekend we were all brothers and sisters and it reminded me about why I am so lucky to be a part of the fire service.
As with many fire departments, Redwood Meadows Emergency Services (RMES) had people from the community who wanted to become part of the fire service immediately following the 9-11 attacks. A couple stayed for years and became the brothers, albeit the bratty brothers, who we would stand beside at any time. Others, after realizing the necessary commitment to the job, moved on. Since 2001 many people have come and gone from RMES and we are currently at the end of our current recruiting campaign, which has seen close to 80 applicants for up to 10 positions.
Of those hopefuls, that 4-year-old boy who stood with us and watched so many years ago, now waits for word on his next step with RMES.
Of course his mother, one of our captains/EMTs and myself are removed from any part of his application, but I cannot wait to be able to call share my experiences, good and bad, of this great job with my son and finally stand next to him and call him brother.