Space is at a premium at the fire academy. The department is growing so quickly that for the first time in our history, we're running two simultaneous recruit schools. The building is brimming with fresh-faced firefighters-in-training, every one of which is required to say "good morning, sir" [or ma'am] as you pass them in the hall. Trying to get from one place to another is like navigating a sprawling psychological experiment designed to force you to greet as many people as possible.
I was at the academy for a day to help teach a class in Pediatric Advanced Life Support. No rooms were available for breakout sessions, so I convened my group in a glorified closet that holds CPR dummies and training supplies. Shelf upon shelf of removable faces dreamed rubbery dreams beside us as I ran the other paramedics through scenarios.
Those slack and expressionless faces have helped teach hundreds of people, uniformed and civilian, what to do when someone's heart stops. Even laid out to dry following disinfection, they summon the images of the many people whose lives have been saved by a stranger who knew CPR.