Life crisis comes at our most vulnerable times. Our private thoughts and struggles are held close to our chest in strict confidentiality. One of my persistent teenage angst concerned how to navigate the dating process. I feel for the growing pains of our current high school students who have more ways to be rejected than I did. The social media bugaboo can even be so cruel that adolescents consider suicide. Their pain is exposed to the whole world, and that is overwhelming. There is a lesson to learn, the sooner the better, to believe in oneself. I like the way the Old Testament prophet described the proper attitude as found in the shepherd boy David: “The LORD hath sought him, a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
A person after God’s heart surely can understand the delicate person exposed body, mind and soul before him. In our West Virginia mountains I experience firsthand that the first responders have worked through their own storms of life. First responders stand in the arena. What I understand with such a character trait is identifying with the heart of God. Descriptive words include compassionate, full of tender loving care, and confidence-keeping.
In our modern American culture, the best example of a person with the heart of God is what I experience working with first responders. This includes our Emergency Medical Service (EMS); our police; our fire fighters; our ambulance attendants; our lifeguards; our nurses and doctors and other frontline medical professionals; our chaplains and others of like ilk.
Our Upshur County Schools Board of Education public meeting on May 11, 2021, had an agenda item that got me thinking about the level of trust we place in first responders. Our discussion centered around a Memorandum of Agreement between the Upshur County Board of Education and First Responders with Access to Confidential Student Information.
I believe the fact that first responders are vital, critical, and dedicated individuals who will sacrifice their own health and safety, thus earning my trust, do have the right to confidential student data. Life and death hangs in the balance in the early stages of an incident. First responders are responsible for the preservation and protection of life, property, and environment.
In the instance of the BOE and first responders, we are sharing our security system and cameras. The time of sharing only includes the period of the emergency. The BOE may be sharing Education Records including oral, written and electronic means. In turn, first responders shall maintain confidentiality of that information.
My lesson learned comes back to what I call an eternal perspective “after God’s heart.” I decided to become a doctor when in the 10th grade at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. At that time, I heard the same advice from three people I trusted—Health and Physical Education Teacher Frank Feola, my mother, and my doctor father. All three cautioned that my way would be challenging. If I could pursue anything else, then do that. But if the Calling remained deep and persistent, then listen to my heart. I have no regrets all these years later. And I trust our first responders in the same way.