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First Sergeant thoughts

104th Fighter Wing, Westfield, Mass. -- As some of you may know, my wife and I ran the Boston Marathon April 15.
I was half a mile from finishing the race, and my wife was approximately 200 yards from the finish line when she saw in great detail the two explosions and the suffering that followed. As she stood there, motionless, trying to comprehend what had occurred, a Boston police officer gave my wife a push and told her to run back in the direction she had come from.

Approximately 90 very long minutes later, I was able to track my wife down and reunite with her. She shared with me how she felt during that moment, and I think it is relevant to every member of the unit. She told me she was trying to figure out a way to help the injured, but did not have the skills to treat such traumatic injuries. She decided the best thing she could do after running over 26 miles was to not become a drain on the first responders who were trained to help.

Every member of the unit is required to attend annual first-aid classes. For a lot of us, we go through the motions to get the class over with and check the box. When I got closer to the finish line I helped some off-duty state troopers get cleaned up after they performed first aid on all those injured spectators. The one thing I kept hearing was, "it was like a battle field." The responders were using techniques we learn about - like how to apply a tourniquet - as the injured awaited transport to the hospital.

The thing I want to impart on all of you is do not take the training you are provided for granted. You never know when you will be called upon to step up and do what you have been trained to do. Pay attention to the course of instruction, it may someday save a life, maybe even your own. I also urge you to know your limitations. Have the ability and insight to know when you are more of a hindrance than a help. Sometimes taking a step back is the best course of action to allow someone who may be more skilled the room to work.

Take care of yourselves and one another. We are all committed to the same values: integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do.