Chicago Fire: The Reality Of The Job Of A Firefighter

There aren’t many jobs that are both physically and mentally stressful as the job of a firefighter and paramedic. These select individuals run into danger while everyone else is running out. Most people don’t get to experience what is really like to be a first responder. Majority of television shows related to first responders don’t really show people the raw image of what really occurs. Scenes are exaggerated to make it more suspenseful and intense for the viewer. Chicago Fire is a television series partnered with the Chicago franchise and it follows firefighters and paramedics working at a Chicago firehouse. The firehouse is accompanied by Truck 81, Rescue Squad 3, Engine 51, Battalion 25, and Ambulance 61. The show explores the professional and personal lives of firefighters and paramedics. Under the leadership of Battalion Chief Wallace Bowden, this firehouse faces life and death situations daily but in the end no what happens they always have each others backs. Even though Chicago Fire is only of the only shows about firefighters and paramedics, viewers get to see what it is like to be a firefighter, what firefighters physically and emotionally go through, it shows both the positive and negative aspects of the job, and how other first responders work along side the fire department.

In Chicago Fire, one of the main characters of the show is Kelly Severide, played by Taylor Kinney. He is a dynamic character in the storyline. He is part of the Rescue Squad 3. The “Squad” is primarily for lifesaving and rescuing people. But right off the bat, on the very first episode of season one, one of the firefighters Andy Darden suddenly dies in a fire. Andy was one of Severide’s best friends growing up. Even after a month Kelly Severide and another lieutenant (Mathew Casey) are still having conflicts with each other regarding death. Moving along to the second episode, viewers find out the Severide’s shoulder gets injured during a call trying to rescue a man from a collapsed construction site. Adding onto his pain, in this same episode entitled “Mon Amour” Darden’s widow Heather confronts Severide and blames Darden’s death on him: “He wouldn’t have even become a firefighter if it wasn’t for you”. Being blamed for someones death isn’t something a person isn’t going to take lightly. Severide now has to live with the fact that Darden’s widow thinks him the reason her husband is dead. At the end of this episode, Severide visits the wife of the man at the construction cite, unfortunately he ended up passing away during the call. But, Severide brings a final goodbye video from this man to show his wife how much he has loved her and how sorry he is for some of his past actions. During the rest of the season, Severide goes through a lot of emotional and physical pain because of his job. In different episodes, one of the paramedics Leslie Shay, who is a close friend to Severide and also his roommate continues to give him pain killers to help him continue working. This is only helping Severide for a short period of time. In episode seven entitled “Two Families” everyone at the firehouse is required to take a mandatory drug test due to their last call involving a drug house. Every other person at the house is just annoyed that they have to take the test. Severide on the other hand is freaking out the entire episode and always finds a loophole to not get tested. He finally reaches his breaking point and is just sitting in a bathroom stalling wondering what to do. Shay is the only person in the house that really knows what he is going through. Knowing all this she brings Severide a cup of her urine to give to the person administering the test just so he can get away with everything. However, during a different point of the season, their Battalion Chief Wallace Bowden notices something is hindering his performance on the job. Although Severide is taking painkillers it doesn’t fully take all the pain away, he still gets episodes of pain time to time during calls. Bowden advises Severide to go get looked at by a doctor. But this is something Severide has been regretting doing because he can affectively lose his job because of an injury. This season showed how dangerous the job can be and not just the physical risks of the job, but also the mental and emotional strain a person can go through. This can bring a negative impact on viewers because it shows how just one injury can end your entire career. However, Severide isn’t the only character in the series that goes through a lot of emotional and physical pain. Another one of the main characters in the series is Gabriella Dawson, played by Monica Raymund. At the beginning series of the show she plays just as a paramedic. However, after season two she becomes the new firefighter candidate for truck fifty-one. Dawson is a great representation of women can do just as much as men can do. Out of all the characters in the series Dawson has definitely gone through the most in all of the season. Beginning of season one, she is already charged with misconduct for performing an emergency procedure during paramedic call. Although she saved a little girls life, the family had a different opinion on the matter. Dawson faces legal trouble because of this call and the Chicago Fire Department questions her of her training and ability on this accident. Paramedics go through a lot of questioning once they bring a patient into the hospital. She deliberately broke rules to save a persons life but nearly lose her job entirely. As a paramedic, that person is in charge of making the call deciding what is the best option for the patient. Even if that means possibly getting written up and nearly fired like Dawson. During the final episode of season two, firehouse fifty-one gets dispatched to a house fire with victims inside. All seems normal during the call except for when a backdraft occurs and makes a huge blast of fire on the inside and outside of the building. In the explosion, the structure of the ceiling above Dawson collapse and miss her. But, it ends up killing her partner Lesly Shay. This is one traumatizing experience for someone to see. Dawson and Shay were partners on ambulance sixty-one and just like that in the snap of a finger she is dead. After all this madness, Casey and Dawson get engaged. However, everything is put to a halt because Dawson wants to get the open candidate position at fifty-one. That states that firefighters or paramedics in the same company cannot have any love relation at work. This puts Dawson in a bad spot. She has always wanted to become a firefighter, but at what cost is it to her. She can’t even be with her husband because of work. Casey and Dawson work things out and decided to have a baby. We later learn that she was never viable to give birth and the pregnancy was cut short. During the next season, Dawson visits a clinic buts finds out that is she was too have another baby she could potentially have an aneurysm that could kill her. Casey decides that it isn’t worth it for them to keep trying. He doesn’t want her to die because he truthfully cares about her. Adoption is brought up into the picture, but due to some past problems in Dawsons past regarding adaption. She doesn’t even consider it because she doesn’t want to get hurt anymore. Dawson’s character is overall a really strong person. With everything that has been going on with her, when it is time for a call it's go time for her. She doesn’t let anything hold her back from doing her job which makes her a great role model. Sadly, at the end of season six, Dawson gets an offer to go to Puerto Rico and work for a special organization were they need paramedics. On the final episode of the season, she first declines the offer but still keeps it in the back of her head. During the middle of the episode, Casey and her get into a big fight during the call. Casey comes home later in the episode only to find her with bags packed ready to leave. Dawson is a great role model as a firefighter paramedic. She shows viewers how strong a person needs to be to become a first responder and how no matter how bad everything else is going in your life during a call if when you need to be at your best.

Most people don’t know what firefighters emotionally go through. They just assume fires get put out and they help people. That is just the base layer of what happens. In an article by the American Psychological Association, Candice C. Johnson states “Firefighters are repeatedly exposed to potentially traumatic even ts and occupational stressors (i. e. , physical strain, shift work that results in disrupted sleep schedules), thus they experience an increased prevalence rate for a variety of psychological disorders and suicidality”. During the entire series of Chicago Fire, all the characters go through their own little dilemma with the job. In particular, Kelly Severide and Mathew Casey go through the most because they are both lieutenants at the station. There are other characters in the show, but these two have the most weight on their shoulders. Severide is trying to keep doing his job with a shoulder injury, being blamed for someone's death, his ex-wife having cancer, and even more. Casey is always putting his foot down for defending the people on his truck even if it means going against his superiors, he is having problems with his current fiancé, and he has to deal with his mother who is currently one trial with a murder case with his father. In another study done at Clemson University, professors found: “Specifically, empirical evidence suggests that exposure to stressors is related to a number of adverse outcomes, such as pain, burnout, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, among others in the firefighter population. . . In fact, according to a recent report by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (2015), 67% of the fatalities among firefighters in 2014 could be attributed to stress and overexertion. ” Depending on the call, firefighters can report back to the station feeling really good or even sick to the stomach. There are certain things portrayed on Chicago Fire that I hope you only ever get to see on television. Seeing some of the drastic things can mentally drain a person and affect them in the long run. The other firefighters in the shown have their own ways of coping with a situation and its great that they provide that extra viewpoint. While firefighters and paramedics go through a lot of emotional problems, there are also a number of ways a firefighter and get physical injured on the job.

Firefighting by no means isn’t a safe job. According to a Vincent Dunn, the author of Safety and Survival on the Fireground: “Firefighting is a high-risk, dangerous occupation. The major risks of firefighting are from explosion, collapse, falls, falling objects, rollover, flameover, flashover, backdrafts, fire, smoke, heat, disorientation, and electrocution”. As opposed to other dangerous occupations, firefighters are always susceptible to death and injury performing life saving task. When a firefighter runs into a burning building, what is going to happen is unpredictable. During season two episode ten entitled “Not Like This” firehouse 51 responds to an apartment fire that takes a turn for the worst. Captain Casey is the last person inside the fire because he heard a baby crying. Once he finally found the baby the house flashes over and gets worse. Casey takes the baby, wraps him in his turnout gear, and makes a run for the door engulfed in fire. Afterwards, he is quickly trying to get out of the house but an explosion happens in the house and the roof collapse on him. Bowden decides to make a mayday call to save Casey. Bowden along with other firefighters from firehouse fifty-one run inside to get him out. Once they find Casey, they lift up the roof and Casey crawls out and slowly walking. The camera angle then goes into a point of view of Casey and viewers can see the blood in his oxygen mask and the dizziness he is feeling. Casey somehow makes it out of the house with the baby still alive. Once he hands the baby off to the paramedics he immediately falls over, passes out, and is escorted in the next few minutes to the hospital. Just like that a structure fire can go from bad too horrible in seconds. Research conducted by Dr. Hong a Professor and Director of Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing Graduate Program at USC found that: “Approximately 66% of firefighters experienced occupational injuries and 56% reported multiple injuries. The most commonly reported injuries were muscle strains and sprains (74%), extremity injuries (60%), back injuries (54%), and burns (28%). A significant number of firefighters reported no duty (58%) or modified duty (46%)”. The career of a firefighter is really tough on the body. Firefighters willingly go into danger at the risk of getting hurt or even dying. Chicago Fire is filmed with real firefighters for the safety of the scene and for credibility. This helps give the show the little bit more of authenticity because actors work side by side with real firefighter. Before shooting a scene the writers work with the firefighters get there side of how to make the set look believable and not exaggerated. The writers are able to show what can really happen when things go wrong.

What makes Chicago Fire a great series is how the rest of the Chicago franchise combines in episodes. You never really get to see all first responders work together. Normally, television shows just focus on one. In the book Protecting Emergency Responders Volume 2 written by Tom LaTourrette states: “Firefighters, law enforcement officers, and emergency medical service responders play a critical role in protecting people and property in the event of fires, medical emergencies, terrorist acts, and numerous other emergencies… Emergency response is an inherently dangerous occupation. Emergency responders face a wide range of serious hazards in their jobs, which places them at high risk for occupational injury or death”. In comparison to other first responder shows on television, only the Chicago series has a big crossover event with all their shows combined into one three hours long episode. If a person is interested in any type of EMS service or first responder job. This is the best way to get a visual representation of how they all work together during the same issue and problems solve as a team. In this three-hour-long episode, a brand new infection is being spread throughout Chicago. The person behind this act is terrorizing the people of Chicago. This is a fictional story, but how everything is dealt with is just like how it would be in a real-life scenario. Firefighters and paramedics are on scene first assessing people. Paramedics bring these people with infections to hospitals. The hospital staff and law enforcement work together to figure out what is happening. Finally, firefighters and law enforcement both work together to find clues. Having a series that corresponds with one another and that is also relevant to the real world is great for viewers. In a Children's Learning from Educational Television : Sesame Street and Beyond, author Shalom M. Fisch states that: “Television can provide children with enormous opportunities and can serve as a window to new experiences, enrich academic knowledge, enhance attitudes and motivation, and nurture social skills”. Even thought this episode is filled with some graphic scenes and may be a negative for some viewers. Individuals looking to pursue some type of job as a first responder can really benefit from watching this show and get a glimpse of how the job is going to be.

Everyone pictures a fireman using the big red fire truck and climb up a long ladder to rescue a cat from a tree. But that’s just a common saying people think about. Firefighters do everything than just save lives. They make an impact on the community. People look at firefighters are heroes. When there is a burning build everyone is running out. But it takes select individuals to have the courage to run into danger. Not just fires, whether you are stuck in a car from an accident, stuck in an elevator, or even extreme cases like suicide attempts. Firefighters are the first ones to arrive and assist you. There are a ton of episodes throughout Chicago Fire were no matter how bad the fire is or how dangerous a situation is, they are still going to go in and try to save someone's life. This show demonstrates how the risk versus reward factor comes into play. Most firefighters don’t run into a building because they want to be a hero, they are just doing their jobs. In a recent news interview with Firefighter Bryce Gutierrez, he talks about how he saved four children in a massive house fire. Gutierrez said: “My safety doesn’t matter at this point. . . No, I am just doing my job”. Just as characters do in Chicago Fire, they go in to save peoples lives. They do this for the greater purpose. The paycheck isn’t what firefighters are really in it for. Sure it is great to be making a lot of money. But firefighters look at things in a different perspective. They just want to be able to make a difference in a community. Saving a persons life is probably one of the best rewards a person can get. Because of you a person’s life is saved. In the article entitled “Reasons to Be a Firefighter” author Kelli Peacocks says, “The No. 1 reason to be a firefighter is to serve others. Although trained to make wise decisions and prepare for emergencies, firefighters know the risk of injury or even death is present on every call. The willingness to take that risk to save someone else is truly the nature of someone with a servant's heart. A career as a firefighter is definitely a way to demonstrate care for others on a daily basis”. Chicago Fire is one of the few shows that can really motivate a person to become a firefighter or a paramedic. While, still providing a great enteritanment for viewers Chicago Fire still makes everything just as realistic as things would be in the real world.

Overall, Chicago Fire is one of the best shows on television that really demonstrates the life of a firefighter and paramedic. Viewers get to see what it is like to be a firefighter, what firefighters physically and emotionally go through, it shows both the positive and negative aspects of the job, and how other first responders work along side the fire department. For young children, teens, or even adults, this is a great show that can motivate a person to become a first responder. </p>

10 October 2020
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