This year I am giving thanks for our brave firefighters

By Daily Pilot

Categories: Featured News
November 15, 2017

As fires continue to rage to the north and smolder to the east, I, like many people, marvel at the heroism of firefighters and first responders.

We all want to do our part to thank these men and women who risk their lives for others. I am in a unique position to do so.

Over the years, I have become the primary care physician to many firefighters, and as they come in for treatment and care, I make a point of telling them how grateful I am for their heroic efforts.

They are always humble and a bit embarrassed by the gratitude, but I express it anyway. I became a doctor to save lives, so one of the greatest joys I have comes from healing and helping those who save others.

Southern California is often beset with fires at this time of year, and many of the firefighters I see in my office are veterans of the county’s worst conflagrations. But this year was different. In one day, 17 fires were raging all over the state. Firefighters were stretched thin, and my patients — the brave men and women who battle these blazes — were put to the test in seemingly impossible ways.

The Canyon Fire 2 alone took more than a week to contain. While it burned 9,217 acres, the fire resulted in not a single loss of life. Often firefighters barely contain one blaze before being deployed to another. Many were sent from Anaheim directly to the wine country fires.

You don’t hear these men and women complain about exhaustion or fear. Not a word. They keep their minds clear and do what needs to be done to save others.

When I tell these patients that I commend what they do and hold them in high regard, they usually become fixated on the floor tiles. I know it’s embarrassing to receive accolades for simply “doing the job,” but when I consider the bravery it takes to head toward danger, I’m moved with awe.

In addition to firefighters, I regularly treat police officers and other first-responders. I tell them I am not only impressed by their work, I am grateful that I can play a part in helping my community simply by keeping these incredible heroes healthy and active.

So this Thanksgiving season, when you see firefighters, police officers, ambulance drivers or emergency medical technicians, make a point of thanking them. I know I will. Even if it embarrasses them a bit.

Dr. Amit K. Hiteshi, Hoag Medical Group

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