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To the Newtown responders: I salute you

As EMTs and paramedics we are trained to do our jobs when our community needs us the most

I spent the weekend in emotional conflict. Like most other Americans, I was shocked and saddened by the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

I spent time with my family and looked both inward and out for answers to unclear questions. At the same time, we spent the weekend preparing the home for the holidays, putting up a tree and trying to stay focused on the people and things we hold dear to our hearts.

Throughout my community I could see neighbors feeling the same way: we took more time to talk with each other on our dog walks, and waved a little longer as we drove by.

Throughout it all, we prayed and wished loving thoughts to the families who lost loved ones. I have no doubt that most of you felt the same way. It’s our way of sharing the common threads that bind us -- being human, being compassionate and being Americans.

My community stretches beyond the confines of my neighborhood. EMS is a small community, about 750,000 in total across the country.

Contrary to the claims of the reporter in the video that accompanies this article, we are not trained to be heroes. We are trained to do our jobs when our community needs us the most.

We provide care and comfort during the moments after disaster strikes. We mitigate the circumstances of those disasters. While we are not trained to be pastors, social workers or therapists, we assume those roles when we have to.

The EMS providers in Newtown had to be all those people over the weekend, helping to absorb the anguish and grief of their neighbors.

I’m humbled, and proud to belong to a community who shows that when times are filled with darkness, that beacons of light will appear to show all the good in the world.

Another week has started and the national dialogue on efforts to prevent this massacre from happening again are under way.

Memories of this event will begin to fade for most of us. For others, this week will begin a lifetime of memories both cherished and pained. To those who helped their community, I salute you and wish you well.

Art Hsieh, MA, NRP teaches in Northern California at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. An EMS provider since 1982, Art has served as a line medic, supervisor 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 writer, author of “EMT Exam for Dummies,” has presented at conferences nationwide and continues to provide direct patient care regularly. Art is a member of the EMS1 Editorial Advisory Board. Contact Art at and connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.