A Personal Tribute to a Fallen Hero

As regular Word on Health readers know, several nights a week I take off my blogging hat and exchange it for my volunteer Fire and Rescue uniform. Together with my fellow firefighters, medics and EMTs we respond to emergency calls from our local community.

Whether it’s the proverbial cat up a tree, the baby who’s stopped breathing, a multi-vehicle pile-up or a home engulfed in flames, we are energized by the “lights and sirens” adrenaline rush and an overwhelming desire to help people during their worst hour. Rarely do we think about the dangers we face and we’re acutely uncomfortable when people tell us we’re heroes for doing what we do.

It takes a tragedy to put things into perspective. Yesterday, that tragedy struck at the heart of our community. As most residents of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia already know, we lost one of our bravest and finest. Paramedic, Joshua Weissman died after falling 30 feet into a rocky creek while responding to a vehicle fire on Interstate 395.

He was just 33 years old. He leaves behind a young wife, a successful career, family, friends, colleagues and the untold promise of life.

His legacy however lives on in the people he helped and the medic students he taught, myself included.

Josh gave his life to serve others and today we honor him and all the other first responders, emergency workers and law enforcement officers that have made the ultimate sacrifice in their selfless service of this great Country. We also extend our deepest sympathies to their family, friends and colleagues left behind.

4 thoughts on “A Personal Tribute to a Fallen Hero

  1. Another tragic loss too soon. RIP Volunteer firefighter Zach Whitacre who lost his life today in another line-of-duty death. Our sympathies go out to his family, friends, the Gore VFD and the entire Frederick Co Fire and Rescue family during this tough time.

  2. Related to this story, disturbing news today from http://www.firegeezer.com

    DANIEL McINTOSH WAS A POLICE OFFICER by occupation but also served his community as an active volunteer firefighter and a paramedic with the Bensalem, Pennsylvania, EMS Squad.
    Two years ago in March 2010 he died of a massive heart attack while tussling with a mental patient who was engaged in destructive behavior. If he had been on the clock in his police duties, or serving on a fire truck, he would have been covered under the Federal Safety Officer Benefit program. But since he was acting under the umbrella of the EMS squad, he was not covered because it is a non-profit organization.

    Congressman Fitzpatrick of Bucks County introduced a bill named for Danny. This bill would provide “equal protection under the law” for the families of EMTs & Paramedics who died in the line of duty. The bill was passed by the House and by the Senate. It should’ve become law last week. One hour and ninety minutes before the bill became law, a staffer who works for Congressman Mica pulled the language. As a result, his family’s final appeal for Danny’s death benefit will most likely be denied this March.

    This Wednesday February 15, a group of fire and police representatives will be escorting Danny Mac’s widow to Washington for a face-to-face meeting with Congressman Fitzpatrick to see what needs to be done in order to get this bill resubmitted and passed into law.

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