Archive for Thursday, February 20, 2003

Public servants deserve respect for melding empathy with professionalism

February 20, 2003

One of the charms of living in a small town is the opportunity to become acquainted with fellow residents. We know the names of our neighbors and, often, those who live across town. Without prying or being nosy, we learn something of their habits, circumstances and background.

On occasion this attractive quality of small-town life can become a curse. Such was the case when firefighters arrived at the scene of a house fire in the mid-afternoon of Feb. 6. Those at the scene knew who lived in the house enveloped in fire and smoke and knew in all likelihood she was inside the home.

Firefighters, police officers and emergency medical providers must develop a professional detachment. They have to be able to distance themselves from the human suffering before them so they can perform their jobs. It has to be difficult to turn off the tap that rises from the well of empathy, especially when one considers the volunteers who contribute to our safety do so out of community concern.

By all accounts, the volunteers on the Eudora Fire Department did an admirable job of conquering their emotions and dealing with a fire that threatened further damage and injury. They deserve our praise. Our words of encouragement could help soothe them and help deal with suppressed emotions. It might prompt others to give their time for some of our community's most important volunteer positions.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.