It's a refrain often heard in public safety circles, more often among the law enforcement community but we all say it: "At the end of the shift, everyone goes home." You try very hard to make sure this always happens, but there are days when, despite your best efforts, it doesn't. At the end of last week - on 16 and 17 March 2017 - two rival cities suffered heartbreaking line of duty deaths.
On Friday morning in Watertown, Massachusetts, veteran firefighter Joseph Toscano collapsed at the scene of a house fire in that city west of Boston. His fellow firefighters worked valiantly to revive him, but they were unable to. The 54-year-old Toscano leaves a wife and five children.
The day before, some three hundred miles to the southwest in the South Bronx, New York, 44-year-old FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo and her partner were on the way a medical aid call when they were alerted to someone riding on their back bumper. When EMT Arroyo stopped the ambulance to investigate, the individual on the bumper climbed into the driver's seat, put the ambulance in reverse and backed over the single mother of five, killing her. She was then dragged by the ambulance when the individual attempted to drive away.
Those of you who followed A Charmed Life likely figured out I have been in EMS for many years. Both of these deaths could have been mine at any point. A former coworker now works for Watertown Fire; I did part of my paramedic ride time at EMT Arroyo's station - FDNY EMS Station 26. We are all frequently amazed by the connections within our public safety community.
Boston EMS and other EMS agencies will send men and women to New York to honor Yadira Arroyo. FDNY and other fire departments will send men and women to the small city on the Charles River to honor Joseph Toscano. These two great rivals, Boston and New York City, will once again put our differences aside and close ranks.
Because that's what we do.
Yadira Arroyo - End of Watch - 16 March 2017
Joseph Toscano - End of Watch - 17 March 2017