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Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Firefighters save the day for anxious student

FIRST-PERSON

Posted: January 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Moses Vargas (left), Brian Clayton, Chad Hunter, Sean Coskran (Patrick's son), Joe McMurray, Brian Hinsley from L.A. County Fire Station #107 in Canyon Country on Dec. 7, 2013. Pat Coskran/Courtesy photo

 

Sean had just delivered four big bags of toys for the annual Spark of Hope toy drive put on by Los Angeles County to benefit those in our community who might otherwise not be able to afford gifts for their children.

Sean was as proud as could be to pose with this group of firefighters from the Los Angeles County Fire Station #107 in Canyon Country, but that only tells part of the story.

Sean is 27 and he has autism and developmental delays. He has loved, for as long as I can remember, anything to do with the firefighters, their equipment, their uniforms and being in their presence.

About eight or nine years ago we were fortunate to make the acquaintance of a man named Glen Goulet, who was captain of station 107 at the time, and he opened a chapter of Sean’s life that has been unfolding ever since.

Through his unselfish interest in Sean, and recognition of the passion Sean felt about firefighters and their job, he has opened doors and established relationships that have been immeasurable in terms of their impact on Sean’s development.

Each of the firefighters in the photo and numerous others not pictured has their own stories to tell about experiences they shared with Sean. Here are just a few:

We were invited to ride in the Los Angeles Marathon Bike Tour with a group of firefighters and their families. Needless to say Sean was over the moon to be included, and I swear he grew an inch that day.

Sean had never been interested in understanding a calendar until one day he was informed that he needed to read the L.A. County Fire Shift Calendar, if he wanted to know when he could come to the station when this firefighter was working. Suddenly, he was motivated, learned the logic of the calendar and has carried a copy in his wallet ever since.

One Sunday night years ago, Sean and I were at Walmart in Stevenson Ranch picking up supplies for him to start a new school program the next day. Suddenly, as we left the store, he had an anxiety attack in the parking lot, sat down on the ground and said he was not going to school the next day.

I’m a Special Education Teacher, and I could only imagine the ribbing I was going to get from my colleagues when my own son refused to go to school.

At that moment, my anxiety was a match for Sean’s, but an idea flashed into my mind. I told Sean that if he promised he would go to school the next day, we could visit Station 124 that was right up the street. He agreed and as we drove toward the station I prayed that there would be a crew there that we knew.

My prayer was answered and these guys dropped what they were doing, gave Sean a pep talk, made him promise that he would stop by and tell them about what a great day he had at school and we were on our way — an excited son and a relieved father.

These are only a few of the many amazing efforts these great guys have put forth on Sean’s behalf. They have made him feel like an important part of their family and as a result have been instrumental in Sean’s development into a self-assured young man.

May God bless these special heroes.

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