Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mourning The Loss of a Close Friend

It’s been a crazy week for me.
Lots of hours at the ‘regular job’ working on salvaging time on a major project that one of my c-workers had allowed to get off track, had me working 13-17 hour days at the end of the week to get things back on track with some good old ‘hands on time’ while trying to see what else was needed to pull things back into line, all the while, my co-worker had ‘other priorities’ that left the project in my hands. (I wonder if he’ll have ‘other priorities’ when he needs a new job?) I’ll let the boss worry about that part when he returns from an overseas trip in 2 weeks. I also had the usual 3 nights out for the Fire Service (meetings, drills, etc).
But the real stressor this week was learning around mid week that Mark Glencourse had reached the difficult decision of shutting down his blog “Medic999”. Being the professional that he is, Mark would not explain the details that caused him to even consider this decision. He preferred instead to respect even those who are taking pot-shots at him and allow them to remain hidden while he was fully exposed. Mark allowed them (in my eyes) to remain cowards and keep their dignity, or at least not have to come out publicly and wage a fair fight based on facts.
It is always difficult to do mental battle with unarmed people and I am guessing that Mark saw the futility in this. In addition to his reputation (which remains stellar), he has his livelihood and his family’s future to consider. I am also guessing this is what led him to give into the pressure of the cowards, and I have no doubt this is the tool they used to get their way. The loss of this Blog is quite palpable to those of us who read Mark’s posts everyday. For myself, he was like a co-worker who would share stories about how his day went and interesting things that occurred. He would also ‘talk to me’ about things that were bothering him and I would have an opportunity (through the comment section on his blog) to offer encouragement, a pat on the back, or if I thought I could help, even offer advice.
Mark and I sometimes corresponded directly and I recall one evening where it was already ‘late’ where I live that I had dropped Mark a note. A response came back in 5 minutes even though it was an ungodly hour where he lives. We had 4 or 5 notes back and forth that night in a half hour period, until I finally told him he needed to get to bed because I was going to bed.
Mark also did things FOR me as a friend would do, although he never knew it. He would put up a post that hit a chord for some reason or other and I would realize that the story would be helpful or instructional to one of my people or fellow Officers. I would send the link to them along with some comments to help them see how they might apply it. It opened discussions that Mark was not part of, or indeed, even aware of. His actions traveled farther than he knew or will ever be able to document.
On the comments section of Mark’s final post is a comment by a “Capt. Tom” that speaks of leadership and the courage it takes to put oneself ‘out there’. I would like to echo that sentiment here. Mark is not only a leader but he is the kind of leader who sets the example for others to follow in everything he does. Such people become ready targets for the insecure. I have had very similar experiences myself and can say that the effort it takes to continue, because you know you are doing the right thing is…. Well, let’s just say it has to be down there somewhere for you to pull it out and keep going. Mark has this rare quality.
Mark, along with his Bro’ Justin were the inspiration for this blog you are reading now. I had always liked to write despite my lack of skill and thought this might be an outlet for the frustrations I experience. At best, I might be able to pass along some information that might be useful to others whether intentionally, or by accident. Now I know that only about 5 people ever found this blog, and I haven’t seen a comment in months, and so can conclude that I lost those 5 readers and am writing for myself. But that’s OK. Someday maybe somebody will find this little corner and start reading the old posts and find something they can use. In the meantime, I hope Mark sees this one so that he knows he made a very real impact on one Volunteer Fire Officer and EMT out in the middle of nowhere who is concerned about keeping his people safe and their skills sharp.
Mark, you will be missed. More importantly, your contributions will be missed even though I know you will quickly (if not already) have found a new way to make a difference. I will miss having that blog out there ‘trolling for newbies’ who happen along, get hooked, and start learning things they never realized were important. You won’t get this effect while writing for the big EMS publications. Those formats speak to folks who already ‘get it’, not the ones who need to get that ‘first contact’ with new ideas.
Hang in there Mark, and make sure we all hear the splash when you jump into a different pool so we can come and watch the show.

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