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My First Responder Neighbor Helped My Grandma

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

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Our mission

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.