Service as a First Responder

I’m just back from my monthly training session of the Allen Valleys First Responders group. It’s just a bunch of local volunteers willing to serve their community. I know, a lot of people serve their communities in many different ways. And yes on the surface it is ‘just’ being of  service to our local community.

Ah yes, in case you don’t know. First Responders are trained and equipped to deal with life-threatening situations before the arrival of an ambulance. Basically if you’d call for an ambulance in this part of Northumberland, we’d get sent as well since we’re more likely to arrive within the government guideline (6 minutes, now if you’ve ever been in beautiful remote parts of this county, you know 6 minutes is almost impossible). Anyway, we got trained extremely well by Northeast Ambulance Service, but our group had to buy our own equipment. We are insured when we go out on call, but pay our own petrol. Nothing very new then, I’m sure many other organisations and volunteers are in similar situations.

And still, I think it is special, being of service as a First Responder. I mean, how many people do you know that offer their service knowing that every time it will be an emergency situation, probably affecting people they know personally. Well, that is what being a First Responder in a rural area is all about. And in a way, I’m ‘lucky’. I haven’t lived here that long, so I don’t know everybody, every family, but some of my fellow volunteers do….

If you’d ask my fellow First Responders why they volunteer, you’re most likely to hear something along the lines of: “Well, it takes the ambulance a long time to get here and it’s good to be able to do something ourselves.” Or “If you’ve managed to keep someone alive after a heart attack and get them to hospital, at least you’ve been able to give the family time to say goodbye”.

We’re just a bunch of locals, different ages, backgrounds and lives, and most would probably not consider themselves religious or spiritual. But to me every single one of them is special because I’m reminded of the following section from Paris Talks by Abdu’l-Baha:

“Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 176)

I wonder what my fellow Responders would think if I told them about Service as Prayer…..

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