This Holiday Season, Remember The Third Responders

We’ll be there. Eventually.

photo Erik Mclean

Moments of silence. Ribbons on cars and NFL uniforms. Elected officials kissing your ring after every unspeakable tragedy.

Must be nice.

I’m a third responder, and I’m tired of being overlooked. Look, I know someone has to stop the bleeding at these scenes. And I’m glad the “first” responders can deign to descend from the clouds long enough to bandage up a few of my fellow peasants. But what about me? Why should I be left out of society’s accolades just because I got stuck in a little traffic and also maybe stopped for a quesadilla?

For many third responders, our paychecks are enough recognition. But I can’t shake that sidekick feeling. Last week, for example, I arrived mere hours after emergency workers had bravely saved hundreds of lives after a horrific industrial accident. The hazmat suit people wouldn’t even look me in the eyes when I asked for their lunch order. Well, they might have been looking. I couldn’t really tell with the glare. But the point remains: all I needed was a signature and fifty bucks, and suddenly I’m demoted from background actor to footnote.

It’s not my fault there was an extremely compelling billboard for a snake zoo en route.

The Third Responder community has been silent for too long. This holiday season, please remember our eventual contributions to the reduction of suffering across the globe. Yes, we want the primary focus to be on the patients we serve. And yes, the lion’s share of the appreciation should be on the perfect frickin’ angels who by total chance (and a little help from a blaring siren) arrive at the scene before the rest of us.

And don’t get me started on second responders, the grade grubbers of the emergency care scene. It’s easy to beat honest professionals like me to the scene when you’ve got multicolored strobe lights, legal immunity and no rewards points from that pretzel place that are about to expire. Congratulations, I guess.

We third responders deserve a millisecond of silence. A crouching ovation. Something. We — particularly those of us suffering from Post-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a disorder still tragically ignored by the medical establishment — deserve nothing less.

I remain*,

(*I still have ten minutes left on my break, how fast can a Ferris wheel burn, anyway?)

Max B.

Proud Third Responder

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Max Barth -

comedian, writer (The New Yorker, Reductress, The Hard Times, Hard Drive, Slackjaw, Points In Case), Libra moon. All my stuff: