73. Dayton Strong

Tuesday August 4 2020

One year ago, a man unleashed a barrage of bullets on a bustling Dayton, Ohio, nightspot, killing nine people, including his sister Megan and forever changing the Oregon District. Seventeen other people were injured by gunfire that night, as well as more than two dozen who sustained injuries in the stampede that followed.

cnn.com, Aug. 4 2020

Today is the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting in our home town that held our attention over all other things happening in the world on that day. The shooter, a mentally-ill young man, planned and carried out his attack in a historical Dayton hotspot. We still want to understand what brought him to do this, but there’s no way to really know what he was thinking. In the melee, his own sister was among the shooting victims and it’s not clear whether he intended this. I’m completely unable to put myself in the parents’ place of losing their only children in such a tragic manner. I have empathy, of course, but their pain is beyond anything I could imagine coping.

The Dayton community moved quickly to begin the healing process with several #DaytonStrong campaigns. The police force earned well-deserved recognition for their rapid response, actually taking down the shooter within thirty seconds of the first shot. A bouncer at the bar is also heralded as a hero as he blocked the shooter’s entry into a crowded bar, undoubtedly saving countless more lives.

As Mr. (Fred) Rogers has been quoted, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

As others are running from the danger, there are an elite few who are going directly into the line of fire.

Why do they choose to? For the greater good? The glory of it all? Because that’s how they earn their paycheck at the end of the week?

We don’t know, any of us, how we’ll react in an emergency until we’re faced with it. Sure, you can imagine yourself doing the right thing, but until the adrenaline kicks in, you really don’t know if you’ll be hitting the primal survival response of fight, flight, or freeze. Or instead, if the altruistic hero factor overrides it all. How we react is in our core and while disaster training helps, our need to survive rises to the top.

Our Dayton Police rode the glory of that wave for a few weeks, until some random incident was labeled as a racist attack and things went to shit again for them.

Look, I know those who choose law enforcement as a vocation can come off as real assholes at times. But when you think about it, so does anyone in a disciplinary-type position. We need the strength of control to keep us one step away from martial law. Not to say we couldn’t do with a good bit of reform to cut out the racial profiling and cherry-picking of who needs attention during a traffic stop, but if I feel that me, my family, or my home was at risk, I want to know there is a structured municipal system that will respond.

During my last few years working for Procter & Gamble Pet Care, I was a trained medical first responder. On the hierarchical scale of medical care, this was pretty much at the bottom, falling just below a Basic EMT. Simply stated, we were taught how to keep someone alive until the real EMT’s showed up, by slowing blood loss, opening airways, and treating shock.

When at the Lewisburg office, I absolutely enjoyed this extracurricular part of my finance job. I struggle to describe the feeling of responding to a medical call. It was exciting, sure. But something else as well. I never wanted to be that person standing by and wringing my hands.  

After relocating to the Mason Business Center, I kept my license, but it wasn’t the same. The campus was so huge that, unless the incident happened in my building, I was often late to the party. I responded to the occasional crushed finger, chest pain, and dizzy spell, but didn’t really feel needed most of the time.

At least until the one time there was a medical emergency in my own department. A colleague had a terrible reaction to a new medication. I was first to respond and stayed with her until the paramedics arrived. She later told everyone how I saved her life, which wasn’t true and I said so. But I can’t lie. Her appreciation felt pretty awesome. 

This is so small, these experiences. I know I could never run into the front lines to put myself in harm’s way, even to save others. I wish I could be that strong in intestinal fortitude and sheer will. And I kinda wish I had more assholiness than I do.

But thank God for those that can and do.

And that’s why I put the assholery nonsense aside and remain pro-first responder.

#DaytonStrong y’all.

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