“Greater love has no one than this, than to be willing to lay down one’s life for that of another.: This paraphrase of John 15:13 alludes to the March 22 story of the terrible fires in the Carolina Forest development. It denotes the motivation of officers Keith Massey, Christopher Cestare and Joseph Manjarrez in their selfless service that day (as well as the many fire personnel, and related support responders).
The story reports that “There was no time to be … scared, panic or offer explanations to residents.” The women and men of our law enforcement and fire services act, precisely as these three heroes did. Backed by thorough training, in the face of emergencies they go forth, in service, with concern for those involved taking precedence over their own well-being.
Officer Massey, who had firefighting training, entered one unit and marched up three flights of stairs in search of an 80-year old resident. He stated that he “couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, and flames were on me.” Yet he pressed forward. Fortunately he located the gentleman and then carried him down the stairs to safety. He states in the article that he “admits he was scared, but … had no time to think about the fear.”
Certainly the humanity of each of us and our natural survival instinct kicks in, in the presence of personal danger. Even so, the women and men of public service go forth into that danger to rescue and aid their fellow human and animal beings. Even as Officer Massey felt himself becoming ill from the smoke, he “continued on because I knew we had to get these people out.” His fellow officers went to the hospital as well, from launching themselves into the fray to get people evacuated. From what I’ve read, the fire spread very quickly, and the efforts of these three officers and all others involved, including other residents, were vitally instrumental in perhaps preventing fatalities.
It is mentioned in the article that officers worked to keep onlookers back, and that residents kept asking questions, to which the officers, “just had to keep reinforcing that there wasn’t enough time to tell them everything that was going on.” This brings up an important point. We humans are naturally curious beings, it seems. We want to know everything about everything instantly. In events such as this fire and any other scenarios upon which law enforcement and other emergency personnel are on scene, obey their commands. It matters not whether you agree with them or even see the logic. Simply obey.
Finally, do something for your fellow ladies and gentlemen in public service uniforms. Buy them a meal at a restaurant if they are in line behind you; tell the cashier you wish to pay for their meal. If they live in your neighborhood, take by a casserole, or a cake or pie every now and then. Or, upon seeing them out and about, simply say, “thank you for your service.”
These fine women and men wish to breathe, raise their families and enjoy life as much as any other person. Yet, when the chips are down, they will go forward into danger of losing that so that we may keep ours. Bless them each and every one.
The writer lives in Georgetown.