As a news reporter, I try to stay abreast with breaking news not only locally, but nationally as well. This afternoon the Navy jet crash in Virginia Beach captured my attention and that of the nation (**photo courtesy of the Associated Press**). CNN broadcast LIVE overhead video from the scene online and I listened to the radio dispatch LIVE on the Web, too.
What stood out the most to me as I watched the video and listened to the emergency workers was the calm about which they did what they had to do. They had an urgency in their step, but confidence in what needed to be done that produced a calm, orderly approach to the clean-up.
So often I think when tragedy like the crash strikes, citizens see the devastation and cannot fathom where to begin (heck, we do that when we have to clean our whole house). However, first responders are trained exhaustively on how to respond when disaster strikes. That constant reenforcement builds muscle memory and instinctive responses that so often is underappreciated.
When I arrive at the scene of a house fire or a shooting, I am always awestruck by the calm of police, fire and EMS workers. They know what they have to do and they just do it. When my own house was on fire several years ago, I was panicked and flustered but the firefighters were calm and orderly, which, in turn, brought relief to me. I had been to previous fires before, but never really appreciated the affect their calm can have on others, especially those directly impacted. It was a blessing, though, when I was fretting about my possessions.
When it comes to large-scale disasters, this ever-present calm is even more crucial. If you've seen the wreckage, you'll know the damage is severe. Yet, few people were injured and even more injuries were prevented because of the responders' skills. One thing I learned while studying for my certification as an EMT was that if you panic and rush, you can get injured and then you are of no use to anyone else. That was exemplified in the Virginia Beach response.
Please take the time to appreciate this calm next time you see a car crash or witness a house fire. Also, send a little thanks to the first responders because they give their all to ensure others are safe.
The tragedy is far from over as I write this, though, so I just want to send my thoughts and prayers to those still at the scene and those affected by the disaster. I hope others in Rocky Mount and throughout the country will do the same.