A Bird’s Eye View

A six story mid-rise building in Irving, Texas houses the corporate headquarters of CHRISTUS Health.  Inside the office, important tasks happen every day to ensure the successful running of hospitals, clinics and compassionate outreach of CHRISTUS’ international Catholic health care ministry.

Most of the people who work at the 919 Hidden Ridge building in Irving have a deep understanding of health care.   Many know the business aspect of it, while others are experts in the technology and still others have a talent in marketing and advocacy. Many have also been bedside nurses who now work to improve patients’ and their fellow nurses’ lives better in other ways.

They are not used to seeing disaster unfold in front of their eyes.  They’re used to ensuring disaster never happens.  So, on a recent Friday afternoon when smoke started billowing out of a nearby apartment complex, someone from 919 Hidden Ridge made the decision to call 911.  The south side of CHRISTUS Health’s headquarters consists of practically wall-to-wall windows.  From those windows, over 1,000 people had a bird’s eye, unobstructed view of first responders in action.

Firefighters from three Irving fire stations responded, stations 4, 11 and 8.   Other fire departments were called in.  The police blocked off streets.   It was an all-day fight.

Firefighters entered the building; they climbed the stairs and later reported feeling the floor grow soft under them.  One veteran firefighter, about to take a step, noticed the second story ground gone.  They had to get out.  The building was collapsing.

In all, more than 40 apartment units were destroyed.  No apartment residents were hurt.  One firefighter suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but investigators suspect it started in an apartment unit’s kitchen.  One of the residents reported cooking something on the stove just before the fire started.

The strange thing is that the first 911 call didn’t come from the apartment.  The emergency call reportedly came from 919 Hidden Ridge.  And, surprisingly firefighters say that’s not all that unusual.   That people don’t always feel like they should call 911 and instead often will take pictures of a disaster, like the apartment fire, and post on social media before calling them in to help.  That they say is a frustration and advise people if you witness a car wreck or another situation that is clearly an emergency to not hesitate to call 911 right away.

We heard this nearly a week after the apartment fire. That’s when leaders with CHRISTUS Health took a trip to those nearby fire departments to thank the firefighters. To thank those firefighters, our neighbors, for the courageous work they do, day in and day out.

The CHRISTUS leaders relayed to those firefighters what happened 30 minutes into their fight with the apartment fire.  Dozens of CHRISTUS Associates gathered in the first-floor chapel.  The prayers were for those apartment residents who were losing their belongings and their homes.  Prayers were said for those firefighters putting their lives on the line.

The prayers worked.  That’s what the firefighters said during the CHRISTUS leaders’ station visits.  No one was seriously hurt and the fire was contained to just one building.  They were thankful for CHRISTUS’ sincere and specific thanks and modest in the praise sent their way.

If you get a moment today, thank those who would save you.  Thank them for their heroics and their work to keep people and property safe.

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