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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

When tragedy hits home, the EMS family grows stronger

Although everyone in public safety will never all know each other, it's still like being part of a family, with all of its strengths and dysfunctions

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: When tragedy strikes any member of the public safety community, and when one of us experiences a triumph, it brings us together. 

Tragedy struck the San Francisco Bay Area public safety community this past week. A San Jose firefighter-paramedic suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the scene of a multi-alarm fire.

And less than 48 hours ago, a California Highway Patrol Officer was critically wounded when he was shot at a traffic stop in Alamo.

It's been a mixed bag of endings. While it appears the firefighter will recover, the police officer was taken off life support last night. We mourn his loss and what it means to his family, friends and colleagues.

Public safety is a tough job. We do it because of a sense of duty and a call to service. We rush to each other's aid when needed, even when we're not prepared to assist. It's as if just being there makes things just a little bit better.

Although we will never all know each other, it's still like being part of a family, with all of its strengths and dysfunctions.

It's so difficult to describe this sense of belonging to folks who are outside this tight community. We're all proud and excited when one of us experiences a triumph, and we cry and hold each other when tragedy strikes. 

When events like these happen, we pause to consider what has happened, how we can help and what we would do if it were to happen to us. We pray for the fallen, provide solace to the survivors and hug each other just a little tighter.

Our sadness makes us stronger, and it makes me proud to be part of this family.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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