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I have just read Mark Benjamin’s article “Fired Up?” (7/9), and I am very, very concerned about the very biased view of his writing.

As a volunteer firefighter/emergency medical technician in Maryland, I must point out that all volunteers must go through the same training and pass the same tests as the “career” firefighters/EMTs in Washington, D.C., or Montgomery, Prince George’s, Prince William, Fairfax, or Arlington County. To suggest that they are “professionals” just because they get paid is an insult to every volunteer who risks his or her life for a community. We spend just as much time in drills and just as much time attending continuing education, too. Only we do it as a service to our fellow citizens and not to get a paycheck. And we do it on our own time—sometimes at the expense of time with our families. (You should understand that my brother is a career paramedic in D.C. and a volunteer in Calvert County, so I have a double understanding of the situation.)

It would be a very important gesture if the article were rewritten with the word “career” or “paid,” instead of the 10 times the word “pro” or “professional” was used.

Understand that the idea of a volunteer department in D.C. is not my issue—I don’t know if it would work. But I assure you that as a volunteer, I am just as professional as anyone else.

EMT-B President

Emergency Education Council of Region 5

Silver Spring, Md.

via the Internet