It has indeed been almost 6 months since I last gave you instructions on our Family Disaster Plan. if this is the first you are reading of it, click on the Disaster Plan tab at the top of the page and get caught up.
Today’s step is an important one, but in no way, shape or form should it be your first.
Tonight you are going to write a Line of Duty Death instructions sheet to your spouse and loved ones to read and follow only in the event of your death, at work.
This is different than your living will, which you all have now, right?
This is also different than any funeral arrangements you may have made or hope to make.
In the back of the Family Disaster Plan are two important sets of instructions. The first is the Line of Duty Injury instructions sheet.
This gives my wife a list of phone numbers at Headquarters as well as who to ask for at the firehouse, “the Captain” and “Daywatch” to get someone who can tell her more about what may have happened to me if she is indeed notified that I am injured on the job.
The last time I got hurt no one called her because I was treated and released so quickly. But if it happens again and she gets a phone call in the middle of the night, she knows to take a deep breath and relax. I know because that is how the instructions start.
Here is just a snippet to get you thinking about what to write in yours-
“Well, you got the phone call you’ve been dreading. I understand you are upset. If I got hurt I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ll worry about all that later, I need you to start thinking three hours ahead. Each decision you make between now and this time tomorrow will set the pace for the coming week. Take a deep breath and calm down.
Goto the closet and get one of my work T-Shirts or sweatshirts and wear it when you come to see me. Be honest if folks ask if you need anything. Take their help. They need to help as much as you need it.”
It will get emotional when you prepare them for what they might see when a firefighter is injured in the line of duty. Be honest. If you dance around topics now it will only create confusion at the most improper time. End the letter by reminding them that even though you are hurt, it could be worse.
Now, while an emotional wreck, excuse yourself and be alone for a bit and HAND WRITE the next letter – Line of Duty Death Instructions.
This letter is the one they will keep and read over and over and over after you are gone. Tell them about why you did what you did or chose this job, profession, occupation, place to volunteer. Sign it, seal it in an envelope and put it in the back of the Disaster Plan.
On the same day, make plans to open the letter the day after your retirement. Perhaps someplace tropical.
Do it now or regret it later, your choice.