Submitted by: Luanne Donahoe
Thank you for your 911 Song – it is so well done and such a great tribute to First Responders! My story is two sided really.
Firstly, my husband was a firefighter for 25 years and was always passionate about his career. He loved it and he did his job well! Like all firefighters, he was in many situations over the years and some didn’t have good outcomes while others did. I remember one time he received a lighting bolt pin for the first time he and the crew he was one used the defib machine to save someone’s life. He was so proud of that pin and what it represented. He was never one to boast about what his accomplishments were but this was different because they had saved a life.
After being on the department 20 years my husband developed CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) an occupational disease. He was a Captain at the time and it was devastating for him to have to admit that he could no longer do his job. He was always happy and smiling and often visited the fire hall and ‘his’ crew. During his illness he was hospitalized 8 times with life threatening strep and sepsis and every time he managed to pull through.
I remember asking my husband at one point, “If you knew when you got onto the Fire Dept. what you know now – that you would develop this disease, would you still have been a firefighter?” and his response without any hesitation was, “Yes – absolutely!” He never had regrets with the career he chose and loved his job.
The second side to my story is that my husband died from a massive pulmonary embolism 3 years ago and the night he died, I had to call 9-1-1 for him because he couldn’t breath. I will never forget that night for many reasons but I can tell you that just knowing that fire, police and ambulance were on their way and as you said in your song – hearing the sirens as they approached the house helped me get through. I had to give my husband CPR until they came and knowing that our 9 year son was crying in the living room, it was all I could do just to get through the nightmare until help arrived.
That night made me realize that others must have felt the same way whenever my husband and his crew were on their way to help them.
As I said, my story is double sided – my husband was a hero for all he did for others and for dying in the line of duty and the night my husband died the fire, police and paramedics were ‘our’ heros. They took care of my family when we needed it the most and although my husband never pulled through – I cannot express how much it meant to have them there for us.
I have lived the life from both sides and I have the utmost respect and gratitude to all First Responders and to my husband who will always be a hero to myself and his son!