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"I wish you could know my thoughts as I help extricate a girl of teenage years from the remains of her automobile. What if this was my sister, my girlfriend or a friend? What was her parents reaction going to be when they opened the door to find a police officer with hat in hand?

"I wish you could know how it feels to walk in the backdoor and greet my parents and family, not having the heart to tell them that I nearly did not come back from the last call.

"I wish you could feel the hurt as people verbally, and sometimes physically, abuse us or belittle what I do, or as they express their attitudes of 'It will never happen to me.' I volunteer my evenings, nights, weekends and holidays to protect people I don't even know.

"I wish you could realize the physical, emotional and mental drain or missed meals, lost sleep and forgone social activities, in addition to all the tragedy my eyes have seen.

"I wish you could know the brotherhood and self-satisfaction of helping save a life or preserving someone's property, or being able to be there in time of crisis, or creating order from total chaos.

"I wish you could understand what it feels like to have a little boy tugging at your arm and asking, 'Is Mommy okay?' Not even being able to look in his eyes without tears from your own and not knowing what to say. Or to have to hold back a long-time friend who watches his buddy, while rescue breathing is performed, as they take him away in an ambulance. You know all along he didn't have a seat belt on - a sensation that I have become all too familiar with.

"Unless you have lived this kind of a life, you will never truly understand or appreciate who I am, who we are, or what our job really means to us - I wish you could though."

Angela DeBlasio lives in Rutland County. She is a freelance writer and EMT volunteer.

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