At the scene of a fire or a dire accident, we typically think of the immediate needs of those involved as needing blankets, first aid, and reassurance that the situation is under control.
However, for little ones who find themselves in the midst of an emergency, who might not have the capacity to fully grasp what’s going on, sometimes the most important thing is a simple sense of normality. And as their parents may be distracted or receiving care, this is where firefighters and other first responders often step in to do what they can to calm the inner turmoil of a scared child’s mind.
For this reason, firefighters in Billings, Montana, are always prepared with book totes so that scared and unsettled children can be calmed with the reliable comfort of a good story.
A firefighter sitting on the side of the road reading a storybook to a clearly very interested little girl went viral this week after a photograph capturing the touching scene was shared to social media.
The Epoch Times reports that the first responder, Ryan Benton, humbly declined to talk to local news since he considered his kind act towards the little girl to be just another part of “doing his job.”
But his colleagues were more than willing to give him the credit he deserved and posted the touching photo to Instagram.
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“We’re going to take care of the job we’re doing there first,” said fellow firefighter Cameron Abell. “That’s our first priority. But there’s a lot of times after like the story you saw in the social media post. That firefighter, Ryan, he was there, they were cleaning up the car accident, and so he took it upon himself to take the time to make those kids feel safe.”
Abell says that the Rimrock Credit Union and Usborne Books have been supplying the book totes to the fire department for about three years for just this purpose.
“The book bags were an idea to bring some calm into their lives, to bring some sensibility into a really stressful situation,” he explained. “There’s a lot that goes on that they may not understand or they’re just overwhelmed by … That kind of can bring them some sense of normalcy in a really terrible situation, sometimes for them.”
“Something that we deal with on a day in and day out basis that parents may not be able to cope with yet because they’re also going through the same situation,” he added. “The sense of calm that maybe we can bring to the children can help the adults calm down as well.”
This sweet and simple act is such a good reminder to appreciate the hard work that first responders do, and they ways they serve their community that we might not otherwise consider — as well as a sweet testimony of the power of good books to sooth and comfort a child’s soul!
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