A Personal Tribute to a Fallen Hero

As regular Word on Health readers know, several nights a week I take off my blogging hat and exchange it for my volunteer Fire and Rescue uniform. Together with my fellow firefighters, medics and EMTs we respond to emergency calls from our local community.

Whether it’s the proverbial cat up a tree, the baby who’s stopped breathing, a multi-vehicle pile-up or a home engulfed in flames, we are energized by the “lights and sirens” adrenaline rush and an overwhelming desire to help people during their worst hour. Rarely do we think about the dangers we face and we’re acutely uncomfortable when people tell us we’re heroes for doing what we do.

It takes a tragedy to put things into perspective. Yesterday, that tragedy struck at the heart of our community. As most residents of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia already know, we lost one of our bravest and finest. Paramedic, Joshua Weissman died after falling 30 feet into a rocky creek while responding to a vehicle fire on Interstate 395.

He was just 33 years old. He leaves behind a young wife, a successful career, family, friends, colleagues and the untold promise of life.

His legacy however lives on in the people he helped and the medic students he taught, myself included.

Josh gave his life to serve others and today we honor him and all the other first responders, emergency workers and law enforcement officers that have made the ultimate sacrifice in their selfless service of this great Country. We also extend our deepest sympathies to their family, friends and colleagues left behind.