Friday, October 5, 2007
I was thinking about the two Boston fire fighters that perished in the Tai Ho restaurant fire today. Paul J. Cahill had a blood alochol level of .27 BAC (.08 BAC considered DUI) and Warren J. Payne was found to have cocaine in his system. I then discovered the newspaper article about Wheaton Illinois Officer Thomas M. Wilson (35yoa) who was arrested because he shoved $85 worth of DVD's into his pants and then left a Costco Store.
I began thinking about the sacrifices we give up to be men and women police officers and fire fighters. These sacrifices are not always readily evident nor easily understood by those who partake of our services but are nevertheless outside our chosen fields.
The particular sacrifice I am alluding to is the ability to make personal mistakes and commit actions that lead to self-inflicted wounds. For most people in most professions substance abuse and mental illness damage only themselves with a little collateral damage to the families of those involved in personal destruction. The risk of showing up to work drunk is really about the DUI getting to work and the treat of loosing your job. However PO's and FF's metal and physical relate directly to the welfare of our co-workers and the citizens who we are trying to aid. We do not have the option to be a "functional alcoholic" or mildly psychotic. Simple put we have a lot less room to mess our lives up then the general public.
This may seem like an obvious point but we do not get second chances at life and remain in this profession. Further we do not have the luxury to temporally fall from grace then decide to pick ourselves up. Rather, we fall and then we have to flee.
In law enforcement addiction is three times the average, suicide twice the average and mental illness more than double the national average. I wonder if the added stress of wondering, while you are going through a dark time, if this personal trial will cost you your job. Quite an additional stress to an already stressful situation. While it is best poor personal decisions are never made. nevertheless they are indeed made all the time with terrible consequences. I wonder if I understood when I joined the force that along with many other sacrifices I would be giving up my life "mulligans"?
PO's and FF's sacrifice their ability to make mistakes in their personal lives in order to be there to bail out the public when they suffer the consequences of their personal destructions.