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INTERVIEWER: Why did you want to become a firefighter?
SUBJECT: I wanted to become a firefighter because I
saw these guys as superheroes.
I saw these guys as bigger than life.
And it wasn't until I got into the job
that I realized that we are just human.
I've seen more in one day than probably someone
has seen in their whole life.
INTERVIEWER: What kind of things do you see?
SUBJECT: I see faces of death.
I see old people, young people, kids.
There are images that are hard to erase.
And it doesn't hit me until I get home
that I can't fix someone's death.
I can't fix someone who is broken.
I can't fix these things in my head that
make me feel like I'm crazy.
Who talks about that?
The only time you see a firefighter crying
is when one of their coworkers die.
INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me about one
of those times when you weren't able to save someone?
SUBJECT: I went on a call where the young girl in her early 20s
was partying on top of an apartment building.
And she fell and tumbled and hit the sides of the walls
and was killed.
But she still had signs of a little bit of life in her.
And I was the person doing compressions on her,
but I didn't realize later on that this event was going
to send me into a tailspin.
Some of these calls just mess you up.
And this call messed me up.
I wanted to start drinking so I'd
mask these feelings and these emotions.
And it didn't help.
I would use prescription pills only because I just
wanted to get numb.
INTERVIEWER: You were diagnosed with post traumatic stress
injury-- PTSI.
Can you tell me about that?
SUBJECT: I'm healing from my injuries.
I'm not going to be completely healed,
because I just went on a call last week that messed me up.
But I get through them quicker because I'm not drinking.
I'm eating cleaner and stair-climbing.
INTERVIEWER: Tell me how you go from using alcohol
as a means of escape to climbing stairs as a new ritual.
SUBJECT: Using drugs and alcohol you get high.
Doing stairs I get high.
I try to get in 10,000 steps a day.
And mentally, it's a great escape,
because you're able to really get out of yourself.
I've begun to realize that I'm trying to control things
that I have no control over.
I'm trying to control death.
You can't control death.
So I focus on trying not to think.
I focus on just trying to get myself upstairs the stairs.
And I just focus on just being positive.
I started organizing my coworkers
to join in and do this climb as a tribute
to the guys that were killed in 9/11.
So now we start wearing gear.
We start wearing our bunker pants and our firefighting
boots, and we wear our helmets.
And you get to a point where you just want to quit.
And then I think about the people who cannot do this--
the people who aren't here anymore, you know.
The stairs are a metaphor to life.
Just one step at a time.
All that excitement, energy, sweat,
tears is contained until you get all the way up to the top
where you just like explode and just feel like the sky
open up to a feeling that everyone should experience.
And I think that a lot of people think
that they can find that in a pill
or at the bottom of a glass.
They don't have go there.
And then when you're able to really get
that big breath of fresh air, you're breathing in life.
It's amazing.
INTERVIEWER: Next on Seeker Stories,
the ritual I developed while captive in North Korea.
Click now to watch.
It was the scariest time of my life.
I was isolated in what is perhaps
the most isolated country in the world.
But there was something that I began
to do that helped me get through each day.
And it was a very simple act.
Rituals is a part of Seeker Stories.
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What It's Really Like To Be A Firefighter

2473 Folder Collection
黃駿祐 published on July 9, 2015    Rose translated    葉子維 reviewed
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