As a parent, I spend the year on the lookout for cute photo opportunities. The best shots go into the family calendar for next year and make good Christmas gifts. Beth has appeared in the living room in full princess regalia, and this is too good to pass up.
In the corner, the fire scanner mumbles. I keep the volume low, but years of experience have trained my ears. Neighboring Smalltown has been dispatched for a car crash.
But the dispatcher is using THAT voice.
My readers in public safety will understand. There is a tone of voice which says the dispatcher knows something that you don’t. He may not have concrete evidence himself, but something has led him to believe that this is The Big One.
Click. Click. “Smile again.” Click. “Let’s try one with your doll.” Beth is a ham; it’s impossible to take just one photograph.
From the corner, the voice of the first arriving firefighter is breathless. “Car 68 to Fire Alarm, dispatch another paramedic unit and the helicopter.” The adrenaline in her voice is apparent.
The photo shoot finished, it’s off to bed. As Beth heads upstairs, I can still barely hear the radio in the other room. The helicopter crew requests the age of the patient. “Eighteen,” comes the reply.
After the teeth brushing, stories, and lullabies, it’s time for my chores. As I load the trash cans into my truck, another update: “Command to Fire Alarm, we have CPR in progress with no shock advised.”
I slowly drive to the end of my driveway, listening to NSFD attempt to make order from the chaos. I swing the cans to the curb, then I notice the sky. It’s a beautiful fall night; cool, clear, and starry. I pause to lean on my truck and stare into the heavens, somehow taking comfort from the familiar vibration of the diesel behind my shoulders.
To an observer, I am just another suburban guy taking out the trash.
But I know.