My favorite encounters with fascinating 'old' people

I am truly fortunate to have known so many people more intimately than I had any right to expect


The thought of daring rescues, burning buildings and bringing people back from the brink of death is what made me want to pursue a career in fire/EMS. But it was the reality of connecting with elderly people, whose lives were closer to the end than their beginning is where I found much of my job satisfaction.

Sure, there were a few moments when the adrenaline rush was close to what I had imagined, but those moments pale in comparison to what I found to be my true calling. I learned that people trusted me, not because they knew who I was, but rather because they knew what my uniform represented. Here are eight of the sick and elderly people I was honored to help, who in turn made my time serving them and the memories created by doing so with dignity something special.

Whispers from another era 

Here’s a guy who was the same age as my own father, had he lived past 60. Talking with him conjured up some pleasant memories, and perhaps even a presence.

A veteran's dignified death 

An encounter with some veterans who stood by as their comrade took his last breaths gave me pause.

An obvious and beautiful connection 

A mother and daughter share a special bond as I transport them to the hospital. They make me appreciate the relationships I have in my own life, and reinforce my need to keep those relationships vibrant.

Eyes tell the truth 

A 95-year-old man gives himself over to my care. How humbling this job can be, knowing that a person who has survived wars, raised a family, built a career and lived a full life trusts me in his final moments.

We are not in Kansas anymore

Sometimes working in the inner city wears you down. Some nights it seems that every call is for an intoxicated, combative male, a homeless person or an assault victim. When “normal” people from suburbia visit the city, and need EMS, mundane calls become special.

Radio made the save 

An intoxicated, elderly man hears the incessant radio chatter coming from a rescuer’s belt, and it gives him the strength to go on, where moments before he had lost all hope. He tells the story years later, after five years of sobriety.

Crisp salute to our service

A search for a “man down” inside his home ends with two men acknowledging each other’s service. You never know where inspiration will come from; sometimes it happens at the bottom of a stairway.

Making a difference 

When a call reminds you of home and what might have been if everything had gone right.

Allow people into your life

I would never have had the opportunity to bond with so many people if not for the firefighters and medics that came before me. Capturing the magic that can exist between strangers was made possible because of something far bigger than myself. I am truly fortunate to have known the people who have crossed my path more intimately than I had any right to expect.

In the end, what truly matters is the people you allow into your life.

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