By Mike Conrad, Division Chief Operations, Aptos La Selva Fire Protection District
I am finding that this month’s article has been difficult for me to find the correct words. My normal articles are centered on emergency preparedness and the things you should do to protect you, your family and your property. These are all things that I have studied and taught throughout my career.
This month my article is strictly on a personal note, as this will be my last article. After 38 years in the fire service and 33 of those years having had the opportunity of serving the citizens of the Aptos and La Selva communities, I will be retiring in mid December.
I can say that there are many mixed emotions with that rapidly approaching day. With 38 years in the fire service it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life, it has been earned with my blood, sweat and tears. But at the same time the idea of not responding to the needs of this community during a time when people need you the most is hard to except. This is selfish reasoning as I know that the men and women of the Aptos La Selva Fire Protection District coming behind me are well trained and very capable of providing service to this wonderful community.
I have told my children and new firefighters that when you are lucky enough to do what you love to do you will never work a day in your life. This has been my fortune to serve the people here in the jewel of the central coast for the past 33 years but yet never felt like I ever worked. This morning I awoke with the same feeling that I had way back in 1983, how lucky am I, “I get to go to the fire station today.” I have tried to find the words to express in more details this feeling, however unless you have been a firefighter, I’m not sure it can be expressed in words alone.
The relationship between this community and our fire department, while not unique, is special. Our work over the years with the Chamber of Commerce, schools, Second Harvest, and many other organizations has made this a fun and rewarding place to spend a career. I will miss this interaction greatly. Like most all firefighters I will leave here with some physical and emotional scars, but the benefits have made it all worth it.
Always remember that the men and women of the fire department are here for your emergency needs. They are here for all three components of emergencies, the preparedness, response and recovery. Take advantage of the preparedness and yes, here comes my last plug for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. This 21-hour class provides you with all of the basic knowledge, skills and abilities to deal with the first few hours following a disaster. Many of the skills learned in CERT training also are effective for smaller emergencies as well and can help you during the recovery phase too. The key to not being a victim is preparedness.
Now for those of you concerned that without my article in the paper you will have nothing to put in the bottom of your birdcage don’t worry. I will be passing the keyboard to Captain Ryan Peters who will continue to write useful and informative articles. Ryan has been with our fire district for many years now and I am sure he will do a great job.
If you are out and about and see some of your firefighters shopping for food at the store or doing fire inspections, preplans or hydrant maintenance take a minute and say hi. The men and women of the Aptos La Selva Fire District are some of the best around and they’re just real good people, I will always consider each and every one of them family.
I wish you all well and thank you for the opportunity to spend my last 33 years serving you.