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Helping our Police and Fire Service after Tragedy. What Can I Do?

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I think news like Dallas experienced last week brings out the best in people.  And it’s just a natural outpouring of the heart to want to help, even if we don’t know how.

The truth is that we could debate the rights and wrongs of every bad thing that happens.  We all have a side and we all know someone who’s involved or been there or, with the quickness of social media, we feel like we’re there too. 

The thing that bothers me about this is that we’re usually not.  Most of us are watching it from our phones or computers or the TV, if we can get our kids off the XBOX or Disney Channel long enough.  And watching something from a distance just doesn’t give the same perspective, or even the correct perspective. 

Now, all that being said, as we watched the news unfold of the police shootings in Dallas, I heard more news focused on the shooter than the victims.  Maybe because there just wasn’t any good information out there yet.  That’s probably it.  But every single time the news gets hold of something like this, my attentions go first to the families of the ones killed.  Because they’re the ones left behind.  And sadly, they’re the ones watching the news, too. 

It’s times like this that I find it better, and easier, to turn off all social media.  Because news travels fast on Facebook, but y’all, it’s not always correct.  And news like that is a police and fire wife’s nightmare. 

One of the worst dreams I ever had traveling along this “first responder” road with my husband for almost 17 years was a dream that I learned about his death on the morning news.  (The background of that is that I’ve always had a policy of turning off all phone ringers for the night, thinking I can handle bad news better in the morning after a full night’s sleep. And also that Fireman Dave is still very much alive.)

But sooner or later we all get used to the life for the most part, and worry doesn’t take a front seat in our days as it does when you’re new to the job – until something happens and we’re reminded that this isn’t an ordinary job.  

And for a time, sweet tributes, memorials and donations will flood the stations.  And people will be a little nicer to each other…and bring lots of cookies.  Because this is one of those times when we all want to do something to help but can’t think of how – so cookies just fit.  Because the world knows cookies are a love language all their own.   

But also bring along your sincere thanks and an openness to hear what these guys need next.  Bring yourselves and your kids after the newness of the tragedy has died down, to learn more about what our fire and police do every day, every night, non-stop, so that we don’t have to have so many days like the ones we had here last week. 

And most of all, remember that there are spouses and children left behind that will need to learn a brand new normal.  And that survivor benefits sometimes do, but often times don’t pave an easy road for them ahead. 

As you think about the families left behind, please be mindful and considerate of public conversations about the incident.  Because y’all, Facebook has no walls to quiet the reminders. Know this without a doubt, it’s not an easy life, but it’s a good life.  And other than wishing for a raise every now and then, I don’t know of anyone who would choose anything different. 

Men and women in the service of protecting our communities do it because they love it.  It’s not a job nearly as much as it is a calling.  And with that calling comes an acceptance of the danger.  Even though it never makes a line of duty death seem right. 

Post script:  Here are some resources to help in the giving…

Dallas Fire Rescue Adopt • A • Station is a program designed to support the City of Dallas (City) in its efforts to maintain, refurbish, and renovate fire stations. The program also supports the fire fighter/EMS professionals’ quality of life at fire stations through donations of goods and property that may be found at typical neighborhood fire stations. Citizens and businesses are encouraged to involve themselves within the community by contributing time, funds, goods or services to benefit the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department (DFR).

Dallas Police Department Wish Lists – Here’s what I’ve learned so far.  DPD command staff maintains wish lists for the stations.  Because most of the stations are in similar shape and need as the fire stations. As of July 14, 2016, the Central Patrol Division (located at 334 S. Hall Street, Dallas Texas 75226) Their specific needs are as follows: 

  • TV and Cable box in Sergent’s office…   (was much needed during the shooting)
  • Cable Box for Patrol and Tactical Detail Rooms
  • Microwave oven or other oven for heating and reheating food for luncheons and events
  • Any Gym equipment.  Most currently needs to be replaced
  • Sound system for Gym
  • Replace or add to the very old and worn patrol bikes

***UPDATE: I’ve slowly been gathering additional wish lists from all different Dallas Police Department Divisions, here is the latest from DPD. Support Services Division Wish List

In addition, the following has also been requested:

Financial Services – HQ – 4th Floor  
Refrigerator
Microwave
 
Youth Ops – HQ – 1ST Floor
Fax Machine
 
Auto Theft Salvage – Auto Pound on 1955 Vilbig
Shelves (file cabinets)
Desks
Flat screen TV (can get from property room)
DVD Burner
Paint so we can paint the walls  (Brown)
 
I am still waiting to hear from the substations at the time of this writing but will update as I learn more.  Here is the contact information for the substations.  They all have genuine needs.  Call, ask and give. 

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2 Responses to Helping our Police and Fire Service after Tragedy. What Can I Do?

  1. Linda Venable July 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    Very well said. And, I have worked with your husband! It’s nice to see the other “side” of his life. Thanks for talking about this. You are right, cookies are always nice, but people forget. Whereas we are there 24/7, and that remains even after retirement. The memories of things we witnessed, incidents that happened. But the memories of thanks and the things that people say out of gratitude also remain.

  2. Kristi Walters
    Kristi Walters July 31, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    Oh Linda, thank you for this! It is so true that your experiences will never leave you. And it’s so true that the general public will never understand this because they just can’t. As my husband reminds me often, I am fortunate to live a life fairly sheltered from the realities of the world. But y’all aren’t. I think there’s a real reason that there are high levels of depression and suicide in these jobs.

    I don’t really know that anyone on the outside looking in will ever understand. But I hope articles like this may give them a hint.

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