A sad story about a child perishing in a fire sparks my drive to write a children’s book and educate kids. The reason I wrote “Don’t Be Afraid – The fireman and EMT”
By Joe Galizio
The first time you set eyes on your child, you fall in love. Immediately you are the protector. This is your child, and you will do anything you can to protect them from everything. The one thing any parent dreads is the thought of losing their child. It’s a thought that you hate to have, and we hate to see other parents go through it. As an EMT, there is nothing worse than seeing a worried parent cry over their sick child. Fortunately for me, I have not yet been on a call where the child doesn’t make it. I still don’t know how I would handle it if that day ever comes.
It’s this feeling that drove me to start researching stories of EMT’s and Paramedics that had been through the death of a child before. I wanted to know how they handled it. It was my way of preparing myself for the inevitability that one day I would be faced with a sick or dying child as a patient on the ambulance. Little did I know that starting this research would change my life forever, and ignite a passion in me that I didn’t even know existed.
After reading some articles I came across one story. The story was unlike any others. It was about a little boy who was upstairs in his room when a fire broke out in the kitchen downstairs. His parents heard footsteps go downstairs and assumed it was their son exiting the house to go meet them at their designated meeting place. When his parents arrived at the meeting spot, they quickly realized their son wasn’t there. They weren’t sure what those footsteps were. Maybe the dog? Panic set in. When they turned to look at the house, the fire had already gotten out of control. The fire department got there quickly as they were right down the street, and when they searched for the boy, they could not find him. The boy’s parents watched as he perished in the fire.
After the fire was extinguished, the boy’s remains were found in his hamper, in his closet buried under his clothes. Yes – he was hiding. At this point of the story, I was sobbing. I can’t begin to imagine the pain those poor parents were feeling. To experience such a loss in such a way cannot even be describable. Why didn’t he get out? Why was he hiding? I asked myself these questions over and over for the next few days. Then I decided to try and find out.
It didn’t take long to find out. They call it “Darth Vader effect.” It’s very simple. Without proper education a child will fear firefighters. It’s very common. Imagine being in a building that is on fire. Scary enough, right? Now imagine being a child, barely being able to see due to the smoke, and hearing a Darth Vader like creature come into your room. Add the mask, bunker gear and an axe – anyone would hide. I read story after story after story like this. In fact, firefighters are trained to look under beds and other hiding places. But let’s face it, in the heat of the moment and under those conditions it may be hard to spot a child if they are hiding in a hard to spot place.
So it boils down to education…. Or lack thereof, right? I went right to my first source. My 7 year old son, Isaac. “How many times have you seen the fire department at your school?” I asked him. “I can only remember one time, Daddy” he replied. Now keep in mind, at this point he was in 3rd grade. He is on his 4th year at the school and can only remember a visit once. Why was that? When I was a kid, I remember the fire department and ambulance companies coming at least once a year. Sometimes it was 2 or 3 times a year. Again I had some research to do.
Well – Here’s your answer. Fire prevention week only happens once a year. EMS week only happens once a year. Therefore Fire Departments and EMS agencies, only visit schools once a year (and some don’t even get a visit yearly). This is at no fault to the fire departments. They do the best they can. They have open houses for kids to visit. They also have budget cuts to contend with. Not to mention a lack of volunteers. Especially during business hours. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71% of firefighters in the United States are volunteers. Meaning most of them work full time jobs during business hours and cannot take time off to visit schools more than once a year. So here it is – the source of the problem. A problem that I vowed I would do my best to bring a solution to. Because I don’t think it’s fair that a child lose his or her life because of our lack of simple education.
I began to think of different ways to get the message to kids. I thought a book would probably be the best way to go. My goal was to write and illustrate and easy to read children’s book about firefighters and EMTs. The book would include illustrations and real photos to depict the gear and tools as well as simple stories the kids could easily identify with. I had a few roadblocks. I had no money to fund this, I was not an author or illustrator, and I had limited time. But what I did have was a passion to get this done. That family’s story had inspired me to make sure something like this would never happen again.
So I went for it. The stories were easy to think up. I mean, I had a reason for doing this. To make firefighters and EMT’s better known to children. Within a day I had the baseline for both short stories, and I had all the illustrations in my head. Now all I had to do was put it on paper. The stories flowed out of me like I had always been a children’s book author. I had my son read them and he liked it. Success! Now I had to work on the illustrations. This took me a bit longer. I was not very artistic by hand, so I learned how to use a free art program on the computer. I worked about 3 weeks on the illustrations. As I finished each one, I would bring them upstairs for my wife and 3 kids to critique. And they did!! And I changed the drawings until I got the thumbs up from all of them. It’s funny….to this day, I look at the illustrations and think maybe I should’ve had a professional artist do these. But when I am in a classroom or auditorium filled with kids, I get nothing but compliments. And these kids are the reason this book was written. They’re the boss!!
Now the hard part came. Funding the project. I knew I was going to be self publishing this project, so I began looking at printing companies to obtain pricing. My goal was to get 2000 books printed, and cover the costs of obtaining the ISBN number and initial advertising. $7500 is what I needed. So I figured the best move was to have a fundraiser. I used Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an internet based fundraising site. Basically you launch a project, they approve it and you use social media to advertise your cause and hope to reach your goal. The one downfall of Kickstarter is that it’s all or nothing. If you don’t reach your goal, no pledger’s cards are charged and you do not get your funding. Unfortunately, that is what happened to me. I was only able to raise $2200 before my time expired, therefore I lost my pledges. What to do now? Try again! Only this time I used another fundraising site that did not require you to fulfill your goal. You set a goal and whether you reach it or not, you get the money pledged. During this fundraiser, I was able to raise $1700. Not the $7500 I was looking for but better than the $0 I had. “We can make this work” I said to myself.
I thought about it long and hard. I wanted to take this $1700 and put together a program in which I could successfully take the proceeds to continue printing and donate those books to schools. I found a printer in the price range I was looking for. By using this printer, I can donate 1 book for every 2 books sold at full retail price. This would cover all my costs. So I ordered 75 books, registered the ISBN and went to the printing press.
When the first batch was delivered to the house I was very excited. Many friends and family started to buy them and I was able to take the proceeds and print more and more. Eventually a few schools contacted me, and requested a visit to read. They also participated in book drives and were able to buy enough that every classroom and library in their school received a donated copy. The support from parents and educators has been so overwhelming and to see the book in these classrooms is a dream come true. Because I know the kids will take them home, read them to their friends, parents, and siblings. With that, the knowledge will grow, the word will spread… Firefighters and EMTs are your friends. And potentially many lives will be saved as a result.
My goal is to get this book into as many little hands as possible. By purchasing a copy you will be helping to put a copy in a classroom. To get a copy of the book please go to one of the following links and help me help our children. Be safe!
or call Joe direct @ 631-905-1730
Or email Joe direct @ email@example.com
More Information on the Children’s book “Don’t Be Afraid” and the emergency safety program at schoolsPosted: March 5, 2013 in News and Articles
Please share this video, and support this important book. We look to get it into every classroom of every schoolPosted: February 11, 2013 in News and Articles
Last year at FireEMSWorld.com.
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Do you have a building in your district you wish you could train in, to prepare for an emergency? Now you can with SimsUshare software. Take a look at this before and after picture, as well as this video. This is a way to simulate an emergency or fire in a local building in your district. Take any picture, add fire, smoke, explosions and virtually anything else. Click the link below to get to their website.
The Emergency Safety Academy will also be using this software for their educational seminars for youth.