I Don’t Run Towards Fire

Last night when we got home from walking around the neighborhood, I told Jay, “Someone’s going to die in this storm tonight, I just know it”.  We had just passed falling trees, dangling power lines, nonstop sirens, abandoned cars, … complete frozen chaos … and that was just in the four block radius of our house.

Route 29 in snow storm

Route 29 last night around 8:30 pm

When I heard on NPR’s morning edition this morning that a man died last night when a tree fell on a truck, my heart sunk.  When I hear that it is going to snow, I think about the beauty of the snow and cancelling school and work.  It wasn’t until last night as we walked past hazard after hazard that I realized the deadly potential of a storm like this.

Last night we were supposed to be out on the streets of Arlington, talking to people who are homeless for the Annual Point in Time Survey[PDF].  We were all set up to volunteer through Community Volunteer Network with Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network who was leading the count for Arlington County.  Luckily we got a call from the Volunteer Coordinator a few hours before our shift to let us know they were postponing.  I was so relieved.

I do not want to die in the line of duty, whether it be paid or unpaid.  I don’t know if that’s a lack of courage or a heap of good sense, but it is not in my personality to run into burning buildings or to jump in to a river to save someone.  I actually tried being a volunteer on a Rescue Squad in college, but I found it to be too stressful (not to mention I wasn’t very good at it).  Last night as we watched all of the cars on Route 29 spinning their tires and just honking out of frustration, I didn’t want to help.  It seemed too dangerous.  I’d be willing to help my friend if they got stuck in the snow, but not help out a line of cars on a busy street.

The one helpful thing I was willing to do was to use the VDOT site to report the downed power lines that we saw in our neighborhood.  We were so lucky to be warm and safe inside our house last night, and it weighed on me, wondering what we could be doing for others during this disastrous storm.

How about you?  If you were in the area hit by the storm, what did you see?

Do you help when there is danger or personal risk involved?


5 responses to “I Don’t Run Towards Fire

  1. You should give yourself kudos for at least trying the volunteer rescue squad. Trying and finding it not right for you is better than sitting it out altogether, I think.
    I walked from Ballston Metro to Madelon’s house, about a mile, and walked by a LOT of stuck cars. My common sense told me I wouldn’t be helpful in the shoes I was wearing. I would have helped if it seemed I could get others around to help (and I was wearing shoes with traction).
    I definitely am prone to speaking up when someone is, for instance, belittling a child in the grocery store, or a boss is asking me to do something unethical, or I see someone abusing a situation to their advantage. Can’t help myself. I’m not about to jump in and break up a gang fight, though!

    • Glad you got to Madelon’s safely, that was a great decision.

      I admire you and the other Bloom women for speaking up when something is wrong. I know my mom actually intervened in a domestic violence situation in a parking lot. One thing I remember from the rescue squad is that domestic violence is the most volatile and unpredictable.

  2. When I got home yesterday (Wednesday afternoon) the power lines and tree branches were down from the heavy snow, rain & ice and my block has been without power for 24 hours now. Since only 29 houses are affected, we’re a low priority for repair. Does anyone not think we live in a third world country where the slightest weather event causes power outages, water main burstings, huge pot holes (that cost $34 billion annually in auto repairs)???

  3. Sharon, I think you underestimate yourself. I think that if you saw a situation in which you could make a difference, you would take action even if it were something scary. Your adrenaline and your sense of “rightness” would take over.

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