It is all in a day’s work…

Just moments before 4 pm this past Thursday lines had already formed. A vaccine walk-in clinic was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. We were already late.  With eager anticipation my husband and I attended the clinic in Hartford, VT. People were anxious to find their appropriate place while looking for reassurance that they were in the correct location. A most cooperative and agreeable group. We were all united in our efforts and want.

The shorter and quicker rotating line was to the left. Appointments only. The ever-growing line to the right was designated for walk-ins. The group to which we belonged. Dark colored tents were purposefully arranged. Mobile vehicles displayed the name Rescue, Inc. A large refrigeration unit boldly illustrated the words “Covid Vaccine.” We took our masked place in line. I was in awe of what this company from Brattleboro, VT had professionally orchestrated and accomplished.  A Covid-19 rescue event was humming along like a well-oiled machine. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

There was an orderliness. A calm. Patience was exhibited by all. My feet frequently shifted from one to the other. A nervous energy in anticipation of getting my booster. Spirits were unexpectedly high as we chatted with one of the wonderful vaccine team members about the lines being much like Disney.  You think you have made it to the end only to learn there is yet another line to join. The journey has in fact been very long.

Relief was palpable as we entered the first sparse and dimly lit tent. We were a step closer. The details of our registration were efficiently handled by one of the team members. She made it look easy as she pleasantly processed our information. How many times had she completed the information while making each person feel so cared for?  Next the tent flap opened into the secret “vaccine” garden. Signs and another team member guided each person to their vaccine of choice. Moderna to the right and Pfizer and J & J to the left.

A call for two people to enter the Moderna mobile clinic soon was heard. We moved swiftly. A quick order floated through the air from a voice I knew not. “One to a chair on the right and one to the left.” Suddenly a tall young man was at my side. The words “Thetford” and “Firefighter” caught my eye on the top of his left short sleeve. I dutifully handed him my paperwork as we are now well practiced. His calm voice gently reminded me to relax. Quietly instructing me to keep my arm relaxed. I felt not even a pinch of the needle, just the flow of vaccine gratitude.

During the early hours of this morning, I thought about this EMT / Firefighter and could imagine how capable and reassuring he would be in a true emergency. Familiar tears began to roll down my cheeks as I reflected on my early experience with firefighters from a lifetime ago. Quite possibly before this rescue worker was even born, I had attended Providence College. On December 13th, 1977, an unspeakable event occurred. A dormitory fire claimed the lives of ten young women. Crepe paper Christmas decorations lined the dorm top floor and were ignited by a hot hair dryer that was tragically stored in a coed’s closet. The Aquinas Hall turned into an inferno. The siren’s roared for what seemed like hours at 3 a.m. that morning. The Providence firefighters were nothing short of heroic. Ten women had horrifically perished. Fortunately, due to their extraordinary and heroic efforts many young women were saved. I had the honor of meeting the only surviving firefighter at a memorial just a few years ago. He told me he was only nineteen as was I the night of the PC fire and his life like mine had been forever changed.

The news this morning talked of an elected official pontificating on the House floor for some eight hours. An interesting juxtaposition of “public servants” struck me. I thought about how the many heroes and heroines in uniform daily spend their “8 hours.” Saving lives. Our lives…

“I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine.” – Kurt Vonnegut









Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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