The first time you set eyes on your child, you fall in love. Immediately you are the protector. This is your child, and you will do anything you can to protect them from everything. The one thing any parent dreads is the thought of losing their child. It’s a thought that you hate to have, and we hate to see other parents go through it. As an EMT, there is nothing worse than seeing a worried parent cry
over their sick child.
While researching child deaths in fires I came across a story unlike any other. It was about a little boy who was upstairs in his room when a fire broke out in the kitchen downstairs. His parents heard footsteps go downstairs and assumed it was their son exiting the house to go meet them at their designated meeting place. When his parents arrived at the meeting spot, they quickly realized their son was not there. They weren’t sure what those footsteps were. Maybe the dog? Panic set in. When they turned to look at the house, the fire had already gotten out of control. The fire department got there quickly as they were right down the street, and when they searched for the boy, they could not find him. The boy’s parents watched as he perished in the fire.
After the fire was extinguished, the boy’s remains were found in his hamper, in his closet buried under his clothes. Yes – he was hiding.
I can’t begin to imagine the pain those poor parents were feeling. To experience such a loss in such a way cannot even be describable. Why didn’t he get out? Why was he hiding? I asked myself these questions over and over for the next few days. Then I decided to try and find out.
They call it “Darth Vader effect.” It’s very simple. Without proper education a child will fear firefighters. It’s very common. Imagine being in a building that is on fire. Now imagine being a child, barely being able to see due to the smoke, and hearing a Darth Vader like creature come into your room. Add the mask, bunker gear and an axe – anyone would hide.
Although, firefighters are trained to look under beds and other hiding places, under fire and emergency conditions it may be hard to find a hiding child.
The solution to the problem is education. Fire prevention week only happens once a year. EMS week only happens once a year. Many Fire Departments and EMS agencies, only visit schools once or twice a year (and some don’t even get a visit yearly). This is at no fault to the fire departments. They do the best they can. They have open houses for kids to visit. They also have budget cuts to contend with. Not to mention a lack of personnel. Especially personnel dedicated to public education.
To respond to this problem within a problem I began to think of different ways to get the message to kids. I thought a book would probably be the best way to go. My goal was to write and illustrate and easy to read children’s book about firefighters and EMTs. The book would include illustrations and real photos to depict the gear and tools, as well as, simple stories the kids could easily identify with.
However, I faced a few roadblocks. I had no money to fund this, I was not an author or illustrator, and I had limited time.
What I did have was a passion to make sure a child never died like this again. Within a day I had the baseline for both short stories, and I had all the illustrations in my head. Now all I had to do was put it on paper. Utilizing my own family as test subjects I found success with the storyline and set to work on the illustrations. After multiple changes to the drawings I finally got the family seal of approval. The books content was ready. Funding the project was the next hurdle.
I knew I was going to be self publishing this project, so I began looking at printing companies to obtain pricing. My goal was to get 2000 books printed, and cover the costs of obtaining the ISBN number and initial advertising. Utilizing a crowd funding site I was able to raise $1700.
I found a printer willing to work in the price range I was looking for. By using this printer, I could donate 1 book for every 2 sold at full retail price. This would cover all my costs. So I ordered 75 books, registered the ISBN and went to the printing press.
The support from parents and educators has been so overwhelming and to see the book in these classrooms is a dream come true. Because I know the kids will take them home, read them to their friends, parents, and siblings. With that, the knowledge will grow, the word will spread… Firefighters and EMTs are your friends. And potentially many lives will be saved as a result.
My goal is to get this book into as many little hands as possible. By purchasing a copy you will be helping to put a copy in a classroom. To get a copy of the book please go to one of the following links and help me help our children. Be safe!
E-mail Joe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Joe: 631-905-1730