Like a Phoenix

Dear Evolving Nomad Readers,

Recently I was asked to be a guest author for the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center’s Two More Chains article, Fall Issue. For those who are not Wildland Firefighters, the Two More Chains articles issued by the LLC offer a strong voice for the fire community. They consistently touch on subject matter that often times is the elephant in the room, so to speak. The writing is bold, honest, insightful, and most importantly it’s written in a demeanor that firefighters can relate to; witty sarcasm.

The Fall Issue of Two More Chains focuses on identity. They decided to dedicate the majority of the article to Wally Ochoa’s story. Wally is someone who is very close to me personally. We fought fire together for several years and are the epitome of what we refer to in the biz as, “fire family.” Wally has gained my respect and admiration in every aspect of life, not just firefighting. He is optimistic, helpful, hard-working, dedicated, driven, giving, and light-hearted. His ego never gets in the way of his willingness to teach young firefighters and leading by example is his specialty.

Wally

In 2014 Wally was struck by a tree while working on a fire and very nearly killed. He was life-flighted to a hospital in critical condition and from that point forward the road has been long and challenging. But in that moment; the moment when I got the phone call which sent me driving through the night to a hospital in Boise, Idaho, I didn’t know if there would even be a long and challenging road ahead for Wally, none of us did.

He had severe head trauma and no promises. His family, fire-family, and friends were all frozen like a deer in headlights, holding our breath, feeling completely powerless. And then, like a Phoenix, he literally rose up from the ash (the ash on the ground from the fire that is) to fight another day, and I could not be more amazed and equally grateful.

The Two More Chains article goes in-depth about his accident and all the trials and tribulations which have come after. I recommend giving it a read because it’s an important story and it’s one that many people in all walks of life could easily relate to.

For non-fire folks, I realize that our lingo can get a bit confusing and if you’d prefer to skip directly to Wally’s story it starts on page 4. For fire folks, don’t miss Travis Dotson’s Ground Truths section, it’s fantastic, as always.

Here is the link to the article:

Two More Chains-Fall Issue