Is It Just Me or Is It Us

Back in Alabama I was a volunteer FireFighter.  Is a volunteer any less than a professional?  Not by a long shot.  In fact, as an instructor for the Alabama Fire College (again a volunteer) I taught classes for many professionals.

Professionals and volunteers must have the exact same skills.  They have to perform the same during an emergency - be it a fire or medical call.  I worked my way up in rank to Deputy Chief and was the Training Officer for my department.  I took that job very seriously.  I became a certified EMT and went on to certify as a Dive Medic Technician.

Do I sound defensive?  Is there a “we’re better than you” attitude among paid FireFighters and Medics.  Yes there is.  They do live and breath it every 24 hours on but they get 48 hours off.  A volunteer is on 24/7, 365 days a year and doesn’t get paid a dime. 

I met the Chief of the Miami Fire Department once and told him I was a volunteer.  He looked down his nose at me and said “if you quit volunteering, they’ll have to pay you”.  He’s right, of course. But our nation is FULL of volunteer FireFighters. 

As Rodney Dangerfield so eloquently stated: They “get no respect”.