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Did a first responder help you? Are you alive today because a first responder rescued you? Did a firefighter pull a loved one from burning building? Did a paramedic deliver your baby? Did a 911 dispatcher talk you through giving CPR to someone? Did a police officer help you through an intense moment? Did a first responder show they care for you in a unique way?

No matter how big or small, we are looking for stories of hope involving first responders. You can help by submitting a story. Please email respondersretreat@gmail.com or send a message to us through Facebook Messenger. 

Thank you in advance for your help. 

Charles Missman has been in the emergency medical services for 18 years and is currently a fire marshall in California. Like many firefighters, Charles also took classes to be a paramedic too. Eight years after his internship, Charles found himself having his first experience with emergency childbirth. None of his training could prepare him for what he was about to do.

 

The woman who suddenly needed his help was his wife, Michelle. Charles and Michelle were on their way to the hospital when Michelle, about to have their 2nd baby, realized she was going to have the baby at that instant. Terrified, Charles pulled over and called 911.

 

 

The 911 operator calmly talked Charles through the delivery. Most people would have been able to relax once the baby was delivered; however, baby Lucas was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. He wasn’t breathing. Michelle remained calm and the dispatcher talked Charles through unwrapping the umbilical cord and performing CPR on his tiny son. After about 30 seconds, Lucas finally took his first breath.

 

Two and a half years later, Michelle and the dispatcher are friends. Their sons go to the same preschool. Charles and Michelle are constantly reminded of the day Lucas was born whenever they drive past the scene. They both feel butterflies in their stomachs. Charles says they go to regular therapy sessions to manage the ongoing anxiety because Michelle nearly panics every time an ambulance passes. Charles has to remind himself it wasn’t a dream.

 

Charles said he did not panic because his wife’s “steel nerves” and the calm voice of the 911 dispatcher. When the paramedics arrived on the scene, Charles was greeted by his old preceptor from his paramedic internship (8 years earlier). Also on the scene was the fire captain who is a long time family friend. The captain, paramedic, and 911 dispatcher all won an award from Santa Cruz County for call of the year.

 

To read more about this call, please visit the article from KSBW8 news, click here. 

 

On Christmas Eve, we were having dinner with my family. We were excited that my grandmother was able to make it this year. One moment we were all eating and the next minute terror came over all of us. My grandmother had choked on a piece of bread. I didn't know what to do. My husband told me to call 911 and then he ran out the door. My children started to panic as I dialed. While telling the dispatcher what happened, my husband returned with my neighbor, Joe. He was a firefighter. He knew just what to do. He looked in my grandmother's mouth and stuck his finger in. He was able to pull out the clump of bread that my grandmother was choking on. Grandma started breathing again.

Everything was a blur. Joe started telling me what to tell the dispatcher on the phone. Suddenly we heard sirens and the ambulance was pulling up. The paramedics came in and started getting information from Joe and me. Before long, we all started smiling and the feeling of fear was gone. Even my children seemed calm. The paramedics told us that Joe saved my grandmother's life. The paramedics then put my grandmother in the ambulance. Grandma was released Christmas Day. Because of Fireman Joe, we had a happy Christmas. That is something I will never forget. Joe left his family to take care of mine. Not only does he save lives when he goes to work, but he also does it when he's off. Thank you, Joe. heart

My husband was at work and I was thinking about driving myself to the hospital. I decided not to as my labor escalated quickly. When my in-laws got to the house, we immediately left.  I was sure I was in active labor at this point. My father-in-law, Big Jeff, drove quickly towards the next big town. Suddenly my body started pushing. After the 2nd push, I told Big Jeff that we needed to call 911 because my son's head was already out. We hadn't made it too far down the road. We pulled over on the side as there were no parking lots around.

The ambulance was there quickly. The paramedics were super sweet and worked very quickly. As soon as they got me on the stretcher, my water broke. The paramedics started pushing the stretcher to the ambulance and my body pushed one last time. My son, Braylan, was here. The paramedics were well trained and very calm. They actually had me laughing in no time.

The paramedics were such an important part of Braylan's birth, that we brought Braylan back to the station a few days later to see the paramedics who delivered him. The station put a blue stork on the side of the ambulance to commemorate Braylan's birth. Newspaper clipping of Mom, Amanda, holding her newborn son next to the ambulance where he was delivered. A blue stork decal is on the side of the ambulance commemorates Braylan's birthWe are so thankful to these paramedics for all they did. I couldn't have done this without those paramedics from Oswego Fire Station. We still celebrate Braylan's birthday by having him visit the same fire station.

Amanda, Yorkville, IL

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Every minute of every day, across our country, firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, and dispatchers respond to our cries for help. From the very young to the very old, dog bites, broken bones, fires, shootings, stabbings, explosions, accidents and more, at any time and in any weather, they are there doing their very best to assist us. While some calls are minor, some can be quite horrific, they see things most of us could never fathom. For many of us, just one of those calls would be more than enough for a lifetime, but imagine for a moment, multiple calls over years of service; the things they must have seen, heard, smelled, and tasted. Whether it was one call or multiple calls, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that these responders may develop post-traumatic stress disorder. At first, they may think that the call just frightened them and what they are experiencing will go away on its own. But as time goes by and the symptoms don’t go away or they escalate the responder begins to doubt themselves. Sadly, post-traumatic stress disorder is not always understood or accepted in the workplace, so many will not seek the help they need to get through this. They fear that they will be seen as weak, that they will lose their job or a promotion. Reactions from bosses, co-workers, and friends may be less than kind, so they start to doubt their self-worth and lose faith in themselves. Every bit of what they are going through can trickle down and affect their families, friends and co-workers. We need to do better for those who have already given so much for us by putting their lives on the line every day. Responders Retreat offers a peaceful, serene setting where responders can come together to clear their minds, relax, talk with counselors and mentors and start to make a plan to go forward and move toward a better quality of life.