Oftentimes, people don’t appreciate the value of something until it’s gone, or until it’s really needed. Like good health. Or like police and firefighters. Sure, police are known to eat doughnuts and sit in speed traps. And firefighters somehow become gourmet cooks in their down time.
But when your house is on fire, or someone has broken into your home, you expect police and firefighters to show up and save your property and your life.
In other words, emergency personnel are often underappreciated.
Like the heroic police and firefighters on 9/11 who ran into buildings on fire. Did they imagine those buildings would disintegrate with them inside? Probably not. But many of them probably knew they would not make it out alive.
It was their duty, and their honor, to go in and rescue those who needed rescuing.
Last Thursday, four Kaysville police officers were similarly heroes. They knew they were in harm’s way and still tried to help someone who needed help.
The officers responded to a call of a suicidal man pouring gasoline on himself and standing in a store with a lighter in his hand. The officers approached him, but could not retrieve the lighter in time.
The man ignited the officers — three men and one woman — alongside himself.
Three of the officers were released from the hospital that evening. One of them was burned so badly that he will be hospitalized for 10 days. The suicidal man remains in critical condition, but still alive.
Kaysville police chief Sol Oberg said of the officers, “There’s a lot of pride in seeing what they’ve done — that there is no hesitation in going in and trying to save this individual, as well as the other occupants of the store, in what could have literally been an explosive situation.”
Utah has a problem with suicide, and we don’t know why. Luke Ramseth of The Tribune reported that “The state’s suicide rate for all ages is more than 60 percent above the national average.”
A researcher will soon begin a project to start interviews to compile “psychological autopsies” that can hopefully explain the “why” of the high suicide rates in Utah. He will study suicides dating back to September 2016.
This project could be life-saving.
What is beautiful about the story of the Kaysville officers, and other life-saving rescues by emergency personnel, is that they recognized a reason for living even when the man couldn’t see one for himself.
Because sometimes all it takes is that simple human connection.