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What were you doing on April 18, 1970?

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By Carl Smith

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As all of us know, life takes various turns and twists. In the spring of 2014 I ran for a 4 year term on the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District and was successfully elected to that term. This spring my wife and I decided to consider selling our home in the Crystal Valley. We talked to four Real Estate Brokers and they all projected that the average time on the market in the Crystal Valley was 270 days. We thought this timing was perfect for a number of things including my term on the Fire District Board. As often happens, with the best laid plans of all of us, they sometimes prove to be in error. Our home sold and closed in 63 days. As a result, I no longer meet the qualifications to be a District Board Member.

In a similar fashion it had become obvious to me that I did not meet the physical qualifications to serve as a volunteer Firefighter/EMT on the Fire District.  Therefore I have resigned both positions, as a District Board Member, and a volunteer Firefighter/EMT effective August 15, 2017.

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I have truly enjoyed all aspects of my 47 years in the Fire and EMS Services since I started on April 18, 1970. If you don’t mind, I would like to reminisce on one aspect of my service and perhaps the most memorable call I responded to. The thing I believe I will remember most are the outstanding people I have served with over the 47 years. Firefighters and EMTs are an outstanding group of individuals. They work hard, they are dedicated and they have chosen to serve the public in often difficult and hazardous conditions. (  More importantly they have also become lifelong friends.

The call I think I will remember most may be surprising to some. The call was a fire alarm at a hospital.  Those of us in the fire service become weary of fire alarm calls.  A vast majority of them turn out to be false alarms, take time to check them out, and then the reports have to be written. Boring. This call was typical as it turned out to be the same type of call. After the call was completed, the two Fire Engine and Ladder Truck Companies returned to quarters. I stayed in the lobby of the hospital to check out a remodeling project that was in the process of being completed. As I was standing there a woman ran into the lobby, crowded with people including doctors and nurses, carrying a baby.  She looked around the lobby and choose me, a firefighter, to give the baby to. She yelled the baby was not breathing and that she had left her other child in the car. She then ran outside. I ran with the baby to the Emergency Department giving CPR.  Fortunately the baby did survive.

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This call impressed me my entire career. This mother, in one of the worst moments in her life, choose me, not because she knew me, but because of the firefighter gear I was wearing. Her actions clearly indicated the respect for the profession I had chosen. This call was always a motivator in how I served in the fire service.

It has been a great 47 years and my wife and I are off on a new adventure. I strongly encourage citizens of the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District to enquire with the Fire District Board President Gene Schilling on the possibility of completing my term on the board, and to run for a position on the board in the spring of 2018.

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Editor’s note: This column was originally shared in the Carbondale Citizens Google Group.

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