I decided to name my first attempt at blogging 'Mutual Aid' because that is how I see my blog and Facebook page, mutual aid to fellow brothers and sisters. I started my fire service career in a small town department in upstate New York. Our county had 43 fire departments. Most of these departments were single stations with 3 to 4 apparatus. What I remember the most about starting my fire service career in that environment was mutual aid. Daytime runs were almost always with a mutual aid agency. In our jurisdiction it was usually automatic aid. Sure there was rivalry between departments. Sure there were those who resisted the help from other departments. But what I remember the most was how well we operated on jobs despite all that. Mutual aid was a way of life in that area during certain times of the day. Without it, the public would have been at great risk.
Now that the short history lesson and shout out to my heritage is done, let's talk about mutual aid for each other. I have come to realize that the mutual aid I was accustomed to growing up is not necessarily how it is in other parts of the country. I am not sure if this is due to pride, ego, distrust, or something else entirely, however mutual aid is not always embraced. I have also gathered this is similar to the way we treat other members of our departments. Why is this? We constantly talk about helping each other out but will refuse to do so quite often. Are we scared someone else will get some recognition? Are we scared someone will promote past us? Are we just lazy? Is it not cool in your department to help someone else? Or do we simply not care as much a we all pretend too? Whatever the reason, it is unacceptable. This is not high school and the click we are in frankly does not matter. It is simply ignorant to claim we became firefighters to help people yet we let our own drown in their problems.
I have also noticed many of us are scared to call for mutual aid as well. Many are scared to look weak to others. Many are worried about losing respect. Others simply think they are amazing at everything. First and foremost let me be the one to break the bad news and inform you that you are not good at everything. Everyone will need help with something at some point in their career. People struggle with many demons whether they be professional or personal and simply refuse to ask our brothers and sisters for help. Maybe you aren't strong with administrative functions. Maybe you are having relationship issues. Perhaps you need help managing your money. Maybe you need to get in shape. The list goes on and on but I promise we all have areas we need to improve on. This tough guy bravado we seem to create is no reason to go at things alone. We all need help at some point in our life, don't let your ego get in the way.
Don't be scared to call for mutual aid. On a job or in your own battles you have to be able to make that mutual aid request while the incident is still manageable. I promise you can mitigate any situation better with some help. Remember what the mutual in mutual aid means as well. You may be called on by others and need to be able to answer the request just as easily as you made it for yourself.
Stay passionate, stay hungry, and most importantly stay safe!