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The Red-Headed Step Child

September 17, 2011

Family dynamics can change over time. What starts out as “I love you!” can deteriorate to “I can’t stand you!” What starts out as the “favored child” can transpire to the “re-headed step child.”

For an explanation let me take you on a fast-track family history of emergency service. We’ll begin with one of mom and dad’s first born children – the fire service FS.

The FS used to be mom and dad’s favorite child. Other than the cost of the big trucks, the boys worked for free, so they weren’t a tremendous burden on the family. Besides, mom and dad hadn’t figured out how to fire proof their buildings.

But, as time went by the boys demanded money and the parents learned how to fire proof the homesteads. Fires seemed to be so few the parents wondered if they even needed the boy around any longer. The boy’s hair seemed to have a color of red. “Was FS even their child?”

Cantankerous old brother law enforcement LE is another member of the emergency service family.

Nobody liked LE much, but somebody had to fight evil. Mom and dad thought the prevention approach might eliminate evil – like it did with fire – but evil just got worse. The parents don’t like feeding brother LE, but they aren’t likely to kick him out of the house any time soon.

Then sister emergency medical service EMS was born one day – a surprise child the folks didn’t even realize they were carrying. One day they were hauling the sick old folks around in hearse wagons and the next thing they know sister EMS is born. She demands a fancy cargo van to haul the sick ones.

Funny thing was the old folks started living longer. And, since the parents were throwing all the kids out, there wasn’t any kids left at home to haul them to the doc when they got sick. EMS is staying in the family.

The last born child was a funny little fellow named emergency management EM. The boy was one of them folks that don’t like doing any actual work, they just like directing others. And, he had a name that matched his demeanor.

Mom and dad thought EM was a bit worthless when he was just a child, but as time went by it seemed logical to have him lead the family. And, all the money started tracking through EM.

So, there’s the story – a bit longer than I promised. The point of the story is the fire service has slowly evolved to being the red-headed step child. Part of the reason is their hard-headed approach to change. For example – FS has demanded they keep their “fire department” name – even when they’ve taken over sister EMS’s role.

When goofy little brother EM came along, brother FS scoffed at him – even though he was given the best name of all. Turned out FS was Goliath and EM was David.

Kansas politicians met the other day to talk about dissolving the State Fire Marshal’s Office – kicking FS out of the State family. That same day there were 275 EM brothers enjoying festivities at the Topeka Ramada Inn – planning their 2012 calendar of events.

Maybe it’s time brother FS changed his name, changed his approach, and dyed that red hair.

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