**WARNING –  Seriously  this is  a real WARNING**  –  the below  post contains some  very graphic language, and  depictions of traumatic, tragic  and disturbing  events including death and destruction.  Please  read at your  own  discretion**

I don’t want to relive this day… but I do, year after year….holiday  after holiday…  in my dreams, in my  waking hours, watching the news,  movies,  pretty much anything can  “trigger”   it….   I am leaving out  the  names and  some of the details to protect the innocent (and the guilty as well)…  but the moral of the story and it’s   real life effect –  life  changing  for myself and many others, is true and  it STILL happens  daily.. ..

I certainly don’t want to  write about it…. And fully relive it  with words on paper,  but I think  it’s a  story  that needs to be told.

My HOPE,  my   PRAYER  my  WISH  for anyone who  reads this – DON’T DRINK AND  DRIVE  – PERIOD!!! Your poor  judgment  affects  so many more people  than just you  or the people  you kill or maim….

Just like  all the GOOD   we put out into the world that sends ripples  of kindness,   the Bad does as well…   the ripple  effect of   even a  single  traumatic event  can  send out ripples that you will never know about..  some may  change to  positive for others to learn from,  but some may turn into  huge waves of grief  and  depression and  pain….

The events depicted  below happened  11 years ago  New Year’s Eve 2002 – New Year’s Day 2003.

On the night of this  call I’d  been on  the fire department for 2 years…I still had a  damn  “T”  for trainee  on my helmet  because when I joined there wasn’t enough people  for a  class it was   show up, get my gear and  start   going to drills and calls  my first day…  and I  had some doozie calls ! some good , some terrible ,  blood and guts,    domestic  violence,  gun shots,  ATV accidents,  car  accidents, house  fires, barn fires,   arsons,  tummy aches,   febrile seizures  etc…   in  2 years I’ve seen a lot that  I never  saw up close  in  war…  I saw  death and  accidents and  terrible things  but  from a “safe-ish”  distance  and was   in  communications   for most of it  so I sent and received the messages  mostly… I also did some Military Police work that  got me a little  closer… plus onboard a  ship  everyone is a firefighter   and a first aid person so  you  get the training in  that aspect of  the Fire Service  but unless you’re in hand to hand  combat on the ground  you don’t  see what Fire Fighters and Police do  every  single day….  Yes  nearly  Every day of their  careers  they see  violence, trauma, heartbreak, grief, pain,  more pain than  you can imagine…  the  emotional  pain of a mother losing a child to SIDS,  or the  bloodcurdling pain of a new amputee who just ran their  motorcycle into a guard rail….   Don’t get me  wrong there are plenty of    great moments  too, Childbirth,  helping someone in need who thought they were dying but  were really ok…  or   helping someone who is really dying  find comfort in their passing  and helping their  family  cope as well… but it takes  a toll…  we all have  “mechanisms”  for dealing with the good and the bad  but   if you  find me one seasoned  firefighter or police officer that  hasn’t been  affected by  the calls they  go on, the things they see and do  then I’ll  show you  a  liar or  a completely  heartless  shell who is in the  job for  the wrong reasons….  You do have to be emotionally  hard  at times,  and save up your pain until you  get home, you  sometimes have to vomit after a call but you  find a  way to choke it down until you are out of sight of others  and back at the station or home….  There have been  many a call where I came  home  and  completely  broke down in tears and others where I had to  puke my brains out and  shower for  an hour ….

Back to New Year’s  eve 2002  – My  kids   were young,  Easton was only 7 so we  watched  Dick Clark  New Year’s eve  on TV and celebrated  early  with Martinellis sparkling  cider  to ring in the   New  Year  with  New York ….put  the kids to bed and  went  to  be early ourselves… I didn’t  drink at all  back then,  I’d  given it up  after having some trouble  with it myself and I had put  all my energy  into training   dogs and horses  and  getting that  damn “T” off of my helmet… I’d  studied all the books,  done extra  training,  been to EMT school, anything I could  do to  get the Chief to take the “T” off….  We had a book that you had  to get  Sr.  Firefighters to sign off that you  knew your stuff…. I’d done that…. But I never asked for the “T” to come off  I was  hoping   that the Chief   or the Training  officer would notice my hard work,  and extra  efforts in always showing up early, mowing the lawns at the fire stations with my own  mower towed in on my   car trailer,  washing the rigs  about every other day…. Helping with every project there was to help with…  you name it…. If it needed to be done, I was your guy….    So in bed early  and get to sleep….. it is a Tuesday night  after all…   I  have tomorrow off as a holiday from my day job  but have to work  Thursday…   I worked as an Operations Manager for the Pacific Northwest ( and Denver and San Francisco)  offices of a  Telecommunications  company…. But   at night  and on weekends I was a  firefighter…


Our Department is still 100%  volunteer.   It is the last of its kind in  King County, Washington.  We  train and  work with other departments,  we help each other out,  and we’re all  part of the best EMS  system in the world….  But we’re the last of a dying breed… most all of us have  regular  jobs  and then the Fire  Service on top of that.  We  drill  at minimum once a  week  sometimes   more depending on if you’re an EMT or an Officer etc…  back then  we were dispatched  via  VHF  pagers  that  were  set to an always “listening” mode and when our specific “tones”  get sent  by dispatch the pager   goes off ( to wake the dead)  and then turns into a  one way scanner  – you hear the voice of  dispatch  telling you where to go and the type of call.. you can then hear any other traffic on that  channel   but typically that channel was just for  dispatching units.. so after hearing the call you  push the button to reset it, grab your regular scanner,  along with your  gear  and  barrel out the  door to your truck ( all  firefighters had trucks back then! )  and head to your station listening to the scanner  for any further info on your call… you  would get to the station,   and jump in  a  rig ( Engine, rescue truck or aid  car depending on what was there and  what the call was) .. and  respond  on the radio to say  you’re on the way…  lights and sirens and off you go….. Here’s what  our pagers  sound like ( and yes we also have the sirens you hear in the  background  on top of the roofs of our fire stations that go off for every call  even today… though  sadly we no longer have the voice  pagers)

Late that night my pager goes off,  I  launch out of bed ( like I said that  sound  WAKES YOUR ASS UP and starts the adrenaline full bore!) , as it’s   on the  dresser across the room,  and  grab  it…     I hear “Engine 88, Engine 89, Aid 88, respond on Fire 3 for an injury accident  at  Southeast 320th and Kent-Kangley road”…. Oh snap   that’s  right here!  ( I lived on  SE 314th!!)  it’s between my house and the station… . since I’m still technically  a “trainee”  ( though  everyone knows I’m not anymore… ) to the department I’m  not allowed to go  to  scenes first yet…. I have to go to the  station and get a unit and  respond from there….  But here’s the  dilemma…


2003 accident


Hmm well we’ll see what happens. Thankfully I have all my gear with me… but no radio ( we have very few radio’s in the department  they are expensive!!)  and I forgot my  lucky socks… any socks… and it’s  freezing ..well  it feels like it’s  freezing… it was  about 35 degrees…  I get in my bunker  pants/boots, pull on my shirt and suspenders grab my coat and helmet and keys   and run out the door to the truck… I can hear the  horns  from the station going off in the dark  of the night…. I fire up my faithful Ford F-150  and  fly around my driveway and  down the  dirt road we lived on…out to  Kent-Kangley and  take a  left….   Not a minute later I  see a horrific scene in front of me ….  The road is completely  blocked…. I have no way  to get  by  to go to the station  and no way I would  have anyway  after the horror I see  before me….

A red car completely unrecognizable as to the make or  model on its top …debris  strewn  as  far as I can see… .. I can hear  sirens  in the distance from the other side of the   carnage…. I pull off  to the side  off the road and  out of the way for any  incoming units behind me…   I jump out of my car and that’s  when I hear the screams……after 10 years I can still hear them …. You can say it was  the tires,  or the sirens  or by standers ….whatever,  but in my mind and in my memory it  was  2 people in the back of that car, you could just make out part of the rear driver’s side  window… the car was laying with the driver’s  side to me  across the road. The car was   crushed and mangled…. But you could  see the back window…all I could hear  were the distant sirens and that  screaming….  Time stood still  as it always  does in these  situations, I jumped out of my truck,  threw on my   bunker coat and helmet  and approached the  scene  on foot… I didn’t have any tools, or anything…  pulling on my  gloves as I walk towards  the screaming  I get about 10 feet from the car and I can clearly make out  screams for help….. just as I am  about to round the car to  see if I can gain access  from the  passenger side the entire care erupts in a  massive  ball of flame……  I am pushed back  by the heat, my jacket is open,  my helmet’s face  shield is  still up  I can’t  do anything.. helpless…..I try to get  close and  I round the car and get to the passenger side,  the  front , what’s left of the door, is open …   I try to get close to see if I can pull anyone free, the roar  of the  flames  is drowning out any other sounds and my focus is on  getting to the  people inside…. But I can’t… I turn around as one of our engines has arrived…. I run to it,  grab a hose line and race towards the  car.. I grab a real “newbie”   and  tell him to help me  get on the hose …..  we get the line stretched out and I hear  our other engine coming  from  that same  direction…behind the scene……… or what I THOUGHT was the scene…..  we signal to the engineer for water and   start  to attack the fire on the  car…we aren’t on air packs,   our  jackets undone,  helmet shields up…completely  not  properly  protected  in any way shape or  form… we’ve been on lots of calls but not  like this one….  The Chief must have called for support  as   a neighboring department’s  engine  pulls up   from the direction that I came along with a  command car….   The Chief ( a really big  deal to me at the time) of that department  walks past  us and yells  at us to  button up our  gear and  get the fire under control…. We do rather quickly,  I leave the rookie with the hose to “cover me”  and   I get to the car….I can see that there’s not a thing we can do for the passengers…I knew that  when the ball of flames shot 30 feet in the air and the  screaming stopped….. but I had to look….. I shouldn’t have….  I wish I hadn’t ….. but it was my job…. What I see is  burned into my  brain  forever…  I see one teenage boy huddled  on the roof of the car in a fetal position  behind the passenger seat, burnt and still smoldering.  I  look across him and see a shape of another person by the window where I first pulled up  but  crumpled in an unnatural way, his face  is towards me  but not a  chance of life… the medics  arrive next  and maneuver their way  around the  scene where I am… one hops out and looks  in,  I’ll never forget his words…  “those two have injuries  incompatible with life, where are the other patients?”  huh?   Other patients? What?   ……. This was a HUGE eye opener for me…I’d  had tunnel vision… I didn’t have good   or ANY  sense of  situational  awareness… oh I’d taken some classes on  it in the military years  before …and   had heard the phrase  but I didn’t  get it fully until that moment…  this was a multi-car  incident…  there was  way more going on than just “my”  side of the  scene.. the  entire incident stretched out  300 yards or more down the road…  so we  finished with  making sure our fire was  extinguished and  rushed  to “command” to find out what we needed to do next…. And that’s when I saw the other  car… if you can even call it that….  It used to be an SUV…   it was on it’s roof, the entire rear axel – tires and all  GONE who knows where.. one of the front tires   I can see   went through a  fence and INTO a house….  There’s  gas leaking   there are two occupants trapped in their seatbelts  upside down..all we can smell is gas everywhere and  the power is still on in the vehicle… I see one firefighter in the back   of the vehicle talking  to the people and  helping them  get loose  from the  seatbelts and  out of the vehicle…we  get one out but have to use the jaws of life on the other…  there’s a hose line standing by  in case that smell  turns into  more than just a  smell….. we get the passenger out  but they aren’t in very  good shape…  backboard, c-collar and  off to the Medic  unit…. The  driver is next  but  there’s already a  team  with   him…  I go to our aid car to help  out there.. inside is a  teenager with serious facial and other  injuries, obviously in  shock and inebriated,   but he is  semi coherent  and not feeling much pain…  he’s asking about the passengers in the  car…. I ask him how many were with  him ( as the passenger seat and driver’s seat were empty… he said 2 or 3… well crap  how many?????   He can’t  remember….  I scramble to  gather as many  free   people that I can, they have the   other driver out at this point  so there are a  few people  standing about  waiting for orders… We get started  searching  all along the sides of the road, in the bushes and blackberries (at that time in the department we didn’t have a  thermal imaging camera AKA TIC) , we call for  a   chopper with infrared  sensors to  search the area  for warmth  of a body.. someone may have been  ejected from the car….   The 2nd Medic unit arrives  and takes the  teenager,  we  get a  3rd Medic unit to   transport the  driver of the other car.  The 1st Medic is already on its way with the passenger to the landing zone for an airlift  to  the  trauma center….    The  living patients are  being transported, the   vehicles are now  stable , we now need to   work with the police and  Medical Examiner to  get the  investigation started…  what seems like just a few minutes was nearly  an hour  to get all the patients   in transport …we then had  several hours of  clean up and  assistance to  provide. At one point  before the Chief of   the next department over leaves … he stops by me and  barks out – Cunningham Give me your Helmet… .  I give him a   strange look  but  I do it anyway.. he’s not my chief  but he’s  still a  chief….   You do what they  say….    He  take my helmet and says I’ve seen you  on   lots of calls  and  I watched you tonight, you  did good,  you need to be sure to   always  have your gear on right but you did real good…  and he  takes the T’s off of my helmet  on the spot…   ( I would later  talk to my own Chief who confirmed they talked and it was  way past time for them to  come off) ..but I  earned my way into the  brotherhood through  fire and blood…literally….

At about 5 AM   we are let  go for now to go home and rest… the investigation is still underway…. I  go home and shower, still  really in a  state of  shock,  frozen ( especially my feet!)  and exhausted…  I tumble into bed.  What seems like 5 minutes later  my pager  goes off again….. for the same location…  same  routine ..jump up  ,  gear, keys,  pager.. it’s a  manpower call … they need people to help….   Ok….  That’s my  job….  I get to the same place  in minutes  park in the same spot and   see the same  scene, this time only it’s   Past dawn…  and we can see the still horrific scene in daylight…  all that remains are  a few policemen  ( the road is still completely  closed  a mile in either direction)  the coroner, and our Rescue  Truck… the Chief says we need to use the jaws to get the  bodies out of the back of the car for the  Medical Examiner  to  take them for the  autopsies and then the cops can  take the car, then we can clean up the road….   Very few people  show up to help….  That happens sometimes…  you never know with volunteers how  many  will show for any given call… I think there were about 4 of us….  It was  a female Senior  Firefighter/EMT   and myself   that grabbed the jaws ( actually a Hurst tool) …we had a tow truck there   to  flip the car upright so we could cut the roof off to get access to the entrapped  people in the  back. Carefully  the tow truck  got the car on its side, and then lowered to the ground..   we  cut the  columns off  and peeled the  roof of the car ….    I was able to   get inside to  help get them out…. by now it had been many  hours  of  cold  and death…so rigor mortis had set in.  The first body  was just  as I remembered it,  only  instead of on the roof was now on the floor/seat  but across from us… the second was  now  nearly  completely under the driver’s seat , so we had to  then cut the  driver’s seat out and were able to  remove his body.  Transferring it to the  ME’s  gurney was a  challenge  due to the rigor mortis  and it was a  gruesome sight.  The same process with the  second  body….  Just as  gruesome… but as  professionals  (Even if we are volunteers we ARE  professional! Sometimes even MORE professional than the  people  that  do it for a career!) we maintain our composure…   we have to help the ME  get them into their  van as  the positions the   bodies are locked in  isn’t conducive to easy loading …so we gave them a hand.  The  Coroners  truck   drives off, the  police wrap up  the  scene, the tow truck  takes away the  last  of the  destroyed car and we are left in the quiet  a few of us  to  clean up the  road and get it re-opened… Happy New year….  Not for  us..  we spend the next hour or  two  cleaning up the road and  are finally  let go….  As I am leaving,  I am numbed by it all,   I’m truly in shock of what  all I’ve just   witnessed and done …  the  gravity of the situation hits  me as I climb in my truck… I drive  back to the station to help  put the rigs away and get them  back in service and  ready for the next call,  then I  head home…  as I’m  heading home  a  bald eagle  flies down in  front of my  truck and  kind of guides me  through  what used to be  the “scene”   and on down the road towards my  turn off I  thank the Eagle for guiding me home, I  don’t remember   much after that….I turned off, the Eagle  continued on his way……I have no  recollection of the  rest of that  day….  I just knew I had to work tomorrow…..

We will get to    the ripples   and  the  moral of this post   in a bit but  here is the  report on this   incident from  a Newspaper ( I changed it a bit to omit the names) …. As you can see it   tells  what happened,  but  that’s it… not the real tragedy  behind the story…. Not the ripples…..

The Seattle Times  — “Both drivers in a New Year’s Eve accident that left two young men dead have been charged with vehicular homicide.

Two charges were filed against a 16-year-old who King County prosecutors say had been drinking and driving his Firebird at least 90 mph on the Kent-Kangley Road in Ravensdale when the accident occurred just after midnight Jan. 1.

Prosecutors also filed a single count of vehicular assault against the driver of the other car, …who they allege had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident.

Both passengers in the teen’s car, …were killed. The  Passenger in the other car was  severely  injured

Occupants of both cars had just left parties and were headed in opposite directions when [X] misjudged the oncoming driver’s speed and attempted to turn left onto 320th Avenue Southeast in front of the car driven by the teen, prosecutors said.”


That may help you to   imagine what  I saw when I  was the 1st to  show up on the scene…  I  only saw the   firebird that had hit the  SUV  at 90+ MPH  flipped  multiple times and  then came to rest on its roof and a short time later  bursting into  flames….… the  other car  was  hundreds of yards down the road.

But that short  “blurb”  in the newspaper doesn’t  begin to  tell you about the  effect of this  horrific  incident that is repeated    daily ….  DAILY……. Every single  fucking  day    people  KILL  other people,  Kids…teens,  adults,   PEOPLE    KILL PEOPLE   because they are  drunk and get behind the wheel….  Ignorant of the  potential consequences…  BULLSHIT  they are not  ignorant  of  what could happen and   don’t blame the   booze… it’s  YOUR fault,  your  poor judgment …..   even if you have the  disease of  alcoholism YOU  are  still  at fault NOT your disease!!! YOU got behind the wheel not the bottle!!   I’m  betting that  many of you reading this    have  been  over the limit , or  worse and  driven…. I know I have,  when I was  young and  either didn’t know better or didn’t care…  I was  a  selfish teenager once too with “issues”  wrapped up in  the world being just about me…not taking any responsibility for my own actions…….  So I’m not claiming to be better than anyone , I’m not  saying I am  holyer ( how the hell  do you spell  more holy ????)  than thou…..  but I want to share with you  all    the cost  of the choices  YOU make when you get behind the wheel  of  a  vehicle  drunk and cause an  accident …don’t  EVER think you won’t….  oh it will happen to someone else…..not me…  I’m here to tell you  that  YOUR choice to  get behind the wheel drunk   can affect   and send ripples of   damage , irreparable  damage into the world….  Here’s  how  I see this particular  crash affected  and CONTINUES  to  have ripples  in the  world…


The  Deaths  of  2 young men  aged 17 and  21  –  those ripples  we will never know… they could have been the creators of the cure for cancer….  Or the next Einstien or  any number of things..   negative ripples…  empty holes dark  holes  that no one will ever know   what could have been with these two young men….

The  families and friends of those two young men….   Forever hurt beyond imagination  of  the death of their   children and friends….feeling the loss…  maybe they   go out and  try to   share the don’t drink and drive story, or maybe some of them go into terrible depressions,   maybe , maybe, maybe…..  who knows but the ripples are still going for all  of those  people  to this day…..

What about the people  at the parties they were at   that let them   leave  drunk? They   have ripples…. They are affected too…

The survivors  (both Drunk Drivers) …I can’t  imagine what their lives   turned into  after this event…  and what about the passenger of the SUV that survived, what were   the injuries,  did they heal?   What kind of ripples   do they have?  … have they turned their  lives around, or ended them even? What about their children?    Their friends and family?  They   were affected by the ripples…. Maybe they still are….lives forever changed….

Then there are the  witnesses , the by standers  that  came out of their homes and  saw the carnage,  whoever it was that called 911 to get us there… what about them?  They  were witness to    a horrible scene that most of them probably have never witnessed  that close…  what effect  did it have on their lives?  Ripples…..  what changes did they make?…..

And then us… the  first responders…. We are “used”  to  seeing  catastrophe and tragedy,  but   you never truly do… you get hardened  to things and you build  coping mechanisms  and ways to keep your composure but you still see , you still feel , you still empathize, you still experience the things you see and   sometimes you’re  better for it,  for making a  difference for those people  you help…  sometimes   you’re not better for it… sometimes you’re  traumatized by it…  especially in those  instances where  you can do nothing…. It happens and you’re aware of it….  It happens to  every  first responder .. you  ask yourself, you over analyze the situations   and  what if  them   to no end….   And you usually come to terms with the   fact that it was not your fault,  it was out of your hands….you tried…you did your best… . and most of the time you  get over it…

All of these ripples  from   a single misjudged left  turn and speeding? … NO  WAY!!!! I call Bullshit….  these  ripples   are from  people making a single terrible  decision….a decision to drink and  drive or  let someone  you care about drink and drive…

But there  are times  where you don’t….   you’ve all heard of PTSD…   it’s not just for soldiers…. Never has been really  but we  as a society  miss that…  there are so many policemen, firemen,   paramedics…. That deal with  it in their daily lives…  because of what they have seen and experienced…  even  just  business people and  jo public can have it  from  seeing or being involved in a traumatic event…  don’t  you DARE  doubt PTSD for a  second….    It destroys lives but it IS  treatable….   But you have to get help for it… no one, NO ONE, I DON’T  GIVE A SHIT  WHO YOU ARE…  you cannot get through it  alone… if you or someone you know has or you suspect they have PTSD   get  help….. talk to someone….   Sometimes that’s all it takes… talking it out, therapy can work….  Sometimes it’s  so deeply rooted that  you need medication…that’s OK!!! IT’S OK  to  ask for help,  it doesn’t make you weak… it makes you  stronger……  but this post isn’t just about that, but let me   step into that for a minute…  PTSD can build up  too… it doesn’t have to be  from a single event… we are HUMAN  we  can all only take so much…  there are so many  first responders out there that  suffer in silence   some not even realizing they have PTSD ..or not caring….. if you happen to  be a first responder reading this… take a look at yourself in the mirror…  and ask yourself  if you are OK , really OK …. If you aren’t    talk to someone… shoot even talk to me… I’m not a licensed professional  therapist ( I am a licensed  professional EMT but that doesn’t count for this)  but I am a  decent listener…..  contact me and I’ll listen, and offer advice,  or be a shoulder to cry on….  That’s  another thing.. any of you so called “Men, Tough guys, etc..” if there’s one  left that says real men don’t  cry  – WAKE THE FUCK UP… yes  we do….   I used to  cry almost every  freaking day… then after that  New Year’s Accident  I cried  literally every day….. for months on end…  I did it in private…  I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t tell  anyone  I didn’t get help….  I just tried to deal with it…..  it became who I was…. I  still did my regular  job, though  in hindsight probably not as  good as I could have… I still  was  the best EMT and  Firefighter that I could be….  But I  probably could have been better… .   it took me many years before I  got help… and what did I do to my  family during that time….maybe I was  decent parent and husband…but  certainly not  the best and  I’m so sorry for that… DON’T  BE THAT PERSON… the sooner  you recognize the   symptoms  , the sooner you  get help  the better off you are and those who care about you are!!!!!

Sorry that’s  an important part of this  “story” …..  I had been suffering from PTSD unknowingly for years prior to that night but   that particular  crash , where I felt so helpless and was the only  person there for minutes,    pushed me over the edge…..  that was the ripple for me…. it tore my life apart….  I couldn’t sleep,  I cried , I had flashbacks, and saw the scene replayed  over and over and over…. I still do… 10 or 11 years later….. I hear the screams…….

Back to   2003…. January  2nd… the 1st was a  blur….  I was in shock I’m sure….   Since it was a holiday I’m  sure that we  took the horses out for a ride,  did the chores,  had  dinner, read to the kids, put them to bed and   went to bed ourselves…… but I don’t remember… I remember  getting up on the 2nd and driving into work, crying as I listened to music… I  composed myself for the work day…  worked and  when it was time, I went home….on my way home I remember  crying more… it was raining that day but it was just scattered showers   …as I was driving I saw a double rainbow and  told myself that it was going to be ok…….  That helped  a little… it didn’t stop the crying or  the other issues  of PTSD…but it   helped me to  survive  for years….

Who else  from that night suffered?  Other firefighters?  Probably.  I know at least one that   left the department…  I  know others that  drank heavily  maybe not from that night, and maybe not from the fire service …but  somewhere every day these  things happen…. Because of  one   selfish decision. You can ruin lives  and send ripples of  evil into the world…  DON’T DRINK AND  DRIVE!!!

Like I said earlier though ,  I’m not any  better than anyone else…… and if you happen to be reading this and   have caused an accident  or done something  in your life to  send out those  negative  ripple, please  don’t  despair…  you CAN  CHANGE, you  CAN make a  difference  a POSITIVE difference in the world  still!    You are also a victim, possibly of PTSD  yourself,   you may be  a victim of your choice and yes it was your fault  but  you  can make amends and change lives positively….. every action  we make ,  no matter  what has  ripples…. Make a change, make a  resolution to yourself  to make appositive difference and send out those ripples   into the world….  Forgive yourself, get help, make a  difference.

This  story  is just  one of the  many ripples sent out on    12/31/02-1/1/03 in a little  rural   community  that changed the world for so many  people….. . it’s now  rippling out to you  reader  you   may not realize it but you just got rippled….    Share it,   don’t  drink and   drive… don’t let anyone you know  or love drink or  drive….  Save lives… make positive ripples    instead….  Imagine the world rippling with positivity…  you can be that change in  every  way , every day.. resolve to   send positive  ripples….

I’m “celebrating”   13  years now in the fire service. I went  from  trainee, to probie, to  lieutenant to  captain. I have been on thousands of calls  some worse than this one,  most better than this one in particular but   I wanted to share this particular story  with you to hopefully   make a difference for someone….even if that someone is me.. maybe this letter is one of my final acts of letting go  after all these years…  about every other year on New Year’s  Eve,  I go to the  roadside memorial  set up  for the two young men whose lives were lost that night and I place flowers there.  I  say  how sorry I am  that I couldn’t help them…  I’ve begged for forgiveness for myself   over the years, I’ve sang, I’ve wept and  I’ve prayed at that site… I’ve parked where I  did that night and  relived the moments  over and over…  tonight will be the last time  I do that.   One final  act of a single  small part of  that   huge incident to put a  stop to  the ripples of that event on my life…  I’ve  always gone alone.. but tonight I take my wife with me , I wish I could take my boys as well , they don’t know this story fully.. they just know that  dad is a  freak about  drinking and driving and  kids dying… maybe they will read this someday and understand why I   always “nag”  and make them promise me never to do it, or let anyone they  are with do it… to be  leaders not followers…. But  tonight they are celebrating  the coming new year with their own friends, my wife and I are staying home this year  and  will drive out to the memorial, she will say a prayer,   I will  apologize one last time and forgive myself and let go……I will continue to  do the most that I can to make a positive difference in the world…

For  more information on PTSD:

You  don’t need any more   info on Drunk Driving….  You see it everywhere… just don’t do it…. If you do need more info   just   look around  I’m sure you will find it…

Sorry for the “downer” new year’s  eve post –  PLEASE Don’t look at it as a downer…  don’t be sad…   make a   change, make a difference, smile  and  be kind..  I truly do  wish each and every one of you a   wonderful  safe and happy New year, I hope all  of your  dreams  come true and that 2014 is  a fabulous year for you all.

As always  my friends:

Stay Safe, Be Kind, Keep the Park Clean, Pay it forward, Make a Difference and One Love.



9 thoughts on “Ripples

  1. So that is the call you never would really tell me about. We touched on it. We had just gotten to be friends back then and I was pushing for you going past EMT and getting your paramedic then. You have told this story with your usual aplomb and you know I feel every tear, every emotion. Chills. Even in my 17 years on the streets, in the trauma center and in the chopper, that call of yours is one of the most horrific. Thanks for telling the story and very aptly naming it. It is so true. Ripples.

  2. Thank you Mike for sharing such a powerful story. I do hope your message gets through.
    We have an early night planned with friends and then to watch the fireworks from the couch at home. Much love to you and Christy. Let’s make this a wonderful New Year!

  3. Dear Michael…as always your “ramblings” touch me, inspire me, make me think. I want to thank you for this…as the wife of a man who has lived with PTSD for all of the 46 years that I have known and loved him. ( Although he didn’t “admit” it and I didn’t “recognize” it for what it was until a few years ago). And I want you to tell you about the “ripples” that you DIDN”T mention…you have caused other much more positive and uplifting ripples in so many lives my friend!!! Thank you for the things you do for our wonderful wildlife, for the things you are teaching others about how to be a positive force for the defenseless and dependent creatures of our world. Thank you…and carry on my friend…carry on!!!
    Tell that sweet wife of yours to give you a big hug and kiss from me!!!
    Happy New Year…may 2014 be a year filled with love and joy and good health…especially good health for you !!!!

  4. Mike, what a powerful and moving piece of writing. Your stories are always so well written and engaging. I see the possibility of a writing career on the horizon.
    ( and NO, I am not kidding)

    • I so agree. Tell him all the time he needs to be a writer. It’s in his soul to reach out to others and make.. continue to make a difference.

  5. Oh Michael, it breaks my heart to hear what you have gone through, and at the same time I am so proud of you for all you have accomplished and all you did, and will continue to do with/for the Fire Department. You are such a compassionate man as well as an accomplished fireman and Paramedic/EMT/whatever else!!You care so much about people, animals, birds, and anything else that you are in contact with. Your heart is so big it can hold anything and love it–now it is time for that heart to work on healing itself!! I love and miss you my dearest son! Keep writing and sharing with us all, it is a beautiful legacy.

  6. I just read this and started crying at the part where you found the first teenager in a fetal position on the roof. I couldn’t help but think of my grandson who is 17–and weep, hoping his and all the parents of my grandchildren have taught their children to do better than they have in the past. I don’t even want to know what they do now, but I certainly hope they read this and realize the ripples that parents drinking can have as an example to their children.
    God bless you…I am so glad to have you in my life again.

  7. Michael, what a powerful story. You are one of the most, no actually THE most amazing person I have ever known. You are so full of goodness and love. You inspire me! After reading part of this last night I was returning home from babysitting for a friend and got stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. I gladly showed my license and insurance info, thanked the officer and wished him a happy new year. He seemed surprised! More ripples, huh? Love ya!

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