(see bottom for links to other posts in this series)
About five hours later, a resident from our other block ran up to me and said, “Hey, you know the fire truck is here, right?” I was so touched and excited that I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I honestly felt like I was ten years old because I was so glad. Plus my child-like joy was mixed with an adult understanding of the power of human kindness.
I quickly filled a bag with chilled bottles of water from the cooler, asked the DJ for the mike, made the announcement, then ran down to the far opposite end of the two blocks to express my gratitude. By the time I got there the fun was already in full swing. One fire man was letting a group of giddy kids spray each other with the portable pump while another guy was supervising the kids who wanted to climb in the truck to see the inner workings. Two more guys were were tossing a football back and forth. Click here to see some pics of the firemen having fun with us.
I walked up and I just started expressing my thanks to anyone who would listen. One of the guys told me, “Yeah, our lieutenant said we just had to come back because the lady asked us so nicely.” That lady was me. The boss wasn’t even the one to tell me that, you know, just to make himself look good. It was one of his guys who told me as a side note.
I went to find the lieutenant I had spoken with that morning. I extended the same heartfelt thanks that I had given to the other guys. For BOTH visits. “We receive a printout of block parties each morning from the central office,” he explained. “And we try to make as many as we can. It just gets kind of busy around here sometimes.” Our block club’s official requests to HQ each spring were NOT getting lost in a bureaucratic maze of red tape as I guessed in my other post.
I asked them if they would like the bottles of water and if they wanted to come down to the food tent to grab some food. They accepted the water but passed on the food with pleasant smiles. One guy patted his stomach and said, “We have some great cooks at our house. There’s a really good dinner waiting for us back at the station.” (Remember the comment about a lot of fire fighters being sexy guys who cook?)
When I mentioned the cakes I dropped off at the station earlier in the summer to the boss there was zero recognition. Just a blank stare and a polite smile. This guy didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. It wasn’t the “bribe” that brought them back. Hours later, after a day of responding to calls and saving lives, these guys remembered an humble [additional] request from an average resident. They delayed having their dinner and came back after a long day’s work just because they're nice guys.
And before they left, the boss even gave us a nice compliment. He said, "This is really well-organized. People don't do it like this anymore." I responded, "There's always a threat of random violence happening. But if you don't make it a place where people WANT to live then the decent people leave and you get stuck with the riffraff."
So, I previously engaged in some admittedly misguided speculation about why our block club had trouble getting visits from CFD for each year’s block party. I’m a person who hates being reactionary by jumping to conclusions or oversimplifying without trying to peel back the layers. In my starved and dehydrated condition that next morning (since I couldn't move anyway) I decided to do some research to find out why I and other residents of my area had this impression. Big Brother Google showed me this article among others and it shed a lot of light on my question, “Chicago Fire Department's Untold Story: 1,500 Shooting Victims Saved.”
"Lost in the clamor over the city's rising homicide rate is that the city's Fire Department is saving lives from gunshot wounds at a stunning pace.
Chicago Fire Fighters Union spokesman Tim O'Brien said the untold story of the city's violence this year was not the homicides, which had already topped the total for last year and were on pace to close in on 500, but the lives saved by paramedics and emergency medical technicians in shootings.
"Nobody's talking about the 1,000 shooting victims who survived because of the work Chicago firefighters did and Chicago Fire Department paramedics," O'Brien said. "What an incredible job by our members.
"We have 1,000 rescues under our belt this year," he said, "and nobody's talking about it."
Chicago Fire Department's Untold Story: 1,500 Shooting Victims Saved, dnainfo Chicago, 11/29/12
Men and women of the Chicago Fire Department are quietly and effectively dealing with the aftermath of so many of the violent incidents we read about every day. In areas like mine there are often more emergencies to respond to. The fire fighters in other areas of the city work hard, too, no doubt. But they might not have to respond as many urgent calls. Judging by how often I hear the fire truck sirens near me, our “guys” (gender all-inclusive) stay busy. They are working extra hard. To keep us safe. Sometimes they have to skip block parties because they're, ummm, you know, saving people's lives!!!
So, if I'm not too proud to make it rain for my block, then I can't be too to admit that I was wrong if the situation warrants it. So for breakfast that particular morning, instead of the bacon and eggs I longed for, I ended up eating crow. I might as well, I told myself. I needed something of substance….since the kids ate my pizza...
In conclusion, we as residents will continue to take treats to our firefighters—as well as our Chicago Police officers who also did regular patrols around our party per our request. Not to influence their decisions but just to show our appreciation for all the work they already do in our community. In honor of the last official day of summer, this marks the end of this summer series.
Why not take a minute to drop off a sweet treat at your local fire station or police department to let the men and women know you’re thinking of them and you appreciate the work they do for where YOU live? And if you have a friend or family member who works for the Chicago Fire Department or the Chicago Police Department, DROP EVERYTHING YOU’RE DOING—DON’T DELAY. Give them a call or send them a text to let them know you care.
Add your words of thanks below for the 1st responders reading this post.
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Read all the posts in this 4-part series: