I sat down to write this not to defend the man’s actions, but to reflect on the collective anger of the masses. I actually picked up the story of the firefighter refusing to respond to the Tuscon shooting incident not off of Statter, as many of you may have, but from a news aggregator on Twitter. I immediately went to the story and while I had to wince at what occurred, I was even more disappointed in the troll activity, which didn’t take long to build.
Before I even went to see what our beloved Fire News blogs like Statter, Fire Daily, Fire Critic, et al had to say (and what you all had to say), I felt it important to say this piece about what went on in that fire station that day.
Unless you are a Tuscon firefighter or officer who happened to be in the room at the time, YOU DON’T KNOW. You can speculate, you can imagine, you can insinuate, and you can opinionate, but the long and short of it is that YOU DON’T KNOW.
Was the firefighter wrong for not responding? Given what I have read so far, and in my opinion, yes, as I believe that it is important as a professional responder to put my personal feelings aside when called to duty. But I wasn’t there. I have no idea what was going on in the station. I don’t know what was going through the firefighter’s head when he got the call. I don’t know what he knew, or what he believed he knew, and I don’t profess to understand what he was going through. But we are dealing with human beings, and not machines, and on occasion, events transpire which cause even the most hardened “hero” to individualize the situation and for whatever reason, experience emotions that we can’t assume are rational or even explainable.
There have been many documented cases where someone froze in the heat of battle because of some emotional trigger. There is a great piece on the differences between choking and panicking that Malcolm Gladwell writes about in What The Dog Saw. Conversely, there are those who were emotionally triggered and acted WAY out of character when faced with a traumatic event, by charging suicidally up a hill to single-handedly take on a machine gun nest, or diving on a grenade, or lifting a heavy object off of someone, when none of those actions were really planned or even considered. The human mind is an amazing place; some of you should visit it sometime.
Those of you so quick to judge should consider walking a mile in someone else’s shoes sometime. For all we know, the individual involved may have been short-timing it. But you know, on the other hand, he might not have, either. When you know for sure what was going on, feel free to share it with us. Until then, maybe you should STFU in the hopes that if this, God forbid, happens to you someday, you won’t have your guts pulled out and spread to the four corners of the planet like some many of you are willing to do on a regular basis.
I’m willing to hear what happened and keep my opinion to myself instead of trying the guy on the World Wide Web. Kangaroo courts went out of vogue back around the time lynching was considered to be a crime against humanity. Get the facts before making a judgment. It’ll pay off in more ways than one.