Opinion / China Daily Bureau Chiefs

Heroes run against crowd, toward the danger

By Tang Yue (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-08-16 14:47

Heroes run against crowd, toward the danger

A firefighter receives treatment at Tianjin TEDA Hospital on Thursday.[TONG YU/CHINA DAILY]

One sentence in the Newseum in Washington has stuck in my mind since a trip last summer: When you see people run against the crowd toward the danger, they are probably firefighters, police or journalists.

I think this rings most true for the firefighters. Whenever and wherever disasters happen-9/11 in New York 14 years ago or the explosion in Tianjin on Wednesday night-it is always the firefighters who take the lead to run to the very center, saving lives by risking their own.

I cried today near the explosion site, not because of the smoke from the ongoing fire but because of a short message a firefighter sent to a trusted friend that went viral online. It reads: "If I cannot make it, my father is your father; and please remember to sweep my mother's tomb."

I was thrilled later to learn that he did make it.

Many like him had no time to inform anyone before diving into the fire. By 10 am, a firefighter surnamed Lu had entered the flames three or four times.

"Every single time, it is you guys who are in the front line," I told him. I spoke with him about 100meters from the explosion's flashpoint.

"We have the equipment and we are professionals," he replied. "Who else should go there instead of us?" The man, who hails from Chongqing, had no intention of making a fuss about the job he had been doing for four years.

In the afternoon, we saw Yang Janjia, a 30-year-old firefighter, in the Tianjin Fifth Center Hospital. We didn't get a chance to talk to him. He was in a coma, and had only two brief wake-ups during the day. His mother was sitting beside his bed and holding his hand, while his father was struggling with anguish.

"Everyone knows it's dangerous to be a firefighter. But he has always liked it and has done it for 12 years," his father said. "He survived this time, but no one knows about the next time."

But not everyone survived this time. Not everyone survived in New York on Sept 11, 2001, nor on many other occasions of tragedy. In a land without war, other heroes take the greatest risks to guard our homes.

In their mission to run against the crowd and save lives, these heroes need the best equipment and training. They already possess the hearts. To them I say thanks for the job you do. And I hope you will soon run safely from disaster toward us.

Contact the writer at tangyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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