Commentary, Health & Safety

Socially Distanced…Not Socially Disconnected

Chief Kanterman’s Journal Entry 58

多多在线观看免费视频I just received the article below from my friend Paul Jockimo, chief of the Somers (NY) Fire Department. The Department operates four stations in a 40+ square mile response district. While the department is a volunteer department, the are paid EMTs on the ambulances most hours of the day. I didn’t meet Paul here however. I ran in to him at 3 or 4 years ago when he walked by me with a Somers FD shirt on! We’ve been friends ever since. Chief Jockimo is a 36-year veteran of the fire service. As a lecturer and author, he has spent the past 25 years teaching, providing and coordinating stress management programs, peer support and crisis intervention education throughout the United States. He has been featured in two books: “Don’t Feel Sorry for Paul” (Bernard Wolf 1974) and “American Firefighter” (Paul Mobley 2017)

多多在线观看免费视频So, as I’ve done in the past, I get to share my journal with yet another fire service professional who has his heart and soul in the game.

Without question, these are scary and stressful times. As the COVID-19 pandemic grows and worsens by the day, so does fear, anxiety, discomfort and restlessness for many. Seemingly, the fear of the unknown breeds more fear. It has quickly become a viscous cycle.

The exact where, when, how and why this terrible virus is contracted or spread, is yet to be fully understood. Add to this, the wide variations in the severity with which people are being affected. For many, maybe most, the symptoms may be hardly noticeable or mild. For others, their illness is much like a bad bout of the flu. Yet sadly for others, the impact is much more significant, resulting in intensive hospitalization or even death.

Many thousands are working from home, participating in distance learning, have been furloughed or let go from their jobs. Many are struggling with not knowing whether they will have a job, or their business to return to when life gets “back to normal”. Countless parents and children, in compliance with the “social distancing” mandate, are forced to be apart from their loved ones. The social support networks that are often our family, coworkers, fraternal, civic or faith-based affiliations are temporarily fragmented.

While we distance ourselves from others physically, strategically and yes, socially, we must be careful not to do so to the extent that we fully disconnect. Rather, a golden opportunity presents itself if we are open-minded enough to embrace it. Can we help others if we cannot be near them? Can we help ourselves by helping others? Without question, the answers are, yes. Simple acts go a long way in helping us remain connected to others. Maybe we should set a goal of checking on five or ten people each day. The healing quality of a caring phone call to another who is also isolated, cannot be measured. In fact, the benefit of such a call may be felt on both ends of the line. Using apps such as Facetime, Skype, or another social media platform, are simple ways to stay connected and to break the grip of isolation. Or maybe this is the time to have that talk with someone we’ve wanted to have that talk with, or to say those things that we needed to say, but thus far we had not taken the time to do so.

While sequestered, we can take the time to do those things that we have been setting aside for “another time”. That language we wanted to learn, the online course, new recipe or do-it-yourself project we’ve wanted to try, now awaits us. No, this isn’t the “make lemonade out of lemons” speech. It is however, the chance to be empowered, when maybe we feel that power itself has been stripped of us. It is the chance to do something positive when there is an abundance of pain and suffering all around. It is an opportunity to open a great gift that has been placed in front of us…that of perspective.

Alas, the gradual clarity that emerges from the blurred haze of difficult times. The ability to see, focus on and embrace those things that truly matter most. These are not times for politics, egos, division or pontification. Instead, these are times for reflection, re-evaluation, service to others and love of one another. Replacing bitterness with betterment, hopelessness with helpfulness and solitude with solidarity, are but a few of the mechanisms that may help us though these challenging days.

Points to ponder:
  • Reaching-out works in both directions
  • Caring for others doesn’t matter, until you take the time to show it
  • Your actions may not change the world, but they may change someone’s world
  • Things we should say more: Thank You, Please, I Love You, I Appreciate You, May I Help? and I Need Help.
Though certainly not fun, convenient or by choice, the times we are in are unprecedented. The stress that each new moment brings can be overwhelming. The safety measures that have been outlined for us are significant, yet crucial: distance, constant disinfecting, hand washing and the wearing of masks have become the temporary norm. But together, we will get through the isolation. By helping one another we will grow stronger. By allowing our goodness to flow to others, we will see the better side of humanity in our neighbors and our neighborhoods.

Talk to you soon.

This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Fire Engineering. It has not undergone Fire Engineering‘s peer-review process.