The Firefighter and The Batboy

By Billy Goldfeder

Let’s also subtitle this story, as stated by “Ronald The Arsonist” in the world’s greatest movie, “BACKDRAFT”… “The Funny Thing About Firemen Is, Night & Day, They’re Always Firemen”

Years ago, I received an email from a firefighter in Florida who has the same last name I do. He wrote me, reaching out, to make a connection…and while we aren’t directly related in the modern world, we both love being firefighters.

Mark Goldfeder is a Florida State Fire Instructor, Trainer, Firefighter/Paramedic and an acting Company Officer at Tarpon Springs Fire-Rescue in the Tampa Bay area, among his many talents and accomplishments. From what I have come to know about him, he is definitely on and INTO the job. He loves being a firefighter. As Rick Lasky says, Mark has THE LOVE OF THE JOB.

Then there is “couldn’t get much cuter” nine-year-old Kaiser Carlile. He too LOVED what he did. He loves baseball…and he loves people. Kaiser, by every account and description, has THE LOVE OF THE JOB.  

Mark the Firefighter/Medic is also a baseball umpire. I would assume that if you have seen the news in the last few days, you have probably seen both Kaiser and Mark’s names. Mark was the plate umpire when the unthinkable happened. 

The Unthinkable. 

Nine-year-old bespectacled batboy Kaiser Carlile was accidentally struck by a bat in the second inning Saturday at the National Baseball Congress in Kansas. Struck by a follow-through swing near the on-deck circle during the second inning of the team’s game that afternoon. Kaiser was wearing a helmet, which is mandatory–but it didn’t help.

As Mark wrote me: “I didn’t see the actual incident happen…but what I did hear was the contact of the hit and then I heard him hit the ground. I turned around, saw him on the ground. He got up and was holding his shoulder, took a few steps and then collapsed. Obviously at that point I recognized there was a more serious problem than just being hit potentially in the shoulder.”

Mark Goldfeder (the Florida Firefighter/Paramedic disguised as a National Baseball Congress umpire) was there, RIGHT THERE when nine-year-old Kaiser was struck by that baseball bat and went down.

Obviously, Mark was off duty, but it didn’t stop him from acting immediately and throughout the incident. It’s his love for the job–an automatic response. It’s been my observation over the years that either you LOVE being a firefighter or you don’t do very well-or last very long. Mark continued to help and joined the local fire/EMS members in doing everything they possibly could in their feverish attempts to save Kaiser.  

“The Funny Thing About Firemen Is, Night and Day, They’re Always Firemen”

I know, the proper term today is firefighter. I get it..but that’s not how it was in the movie. In that movie, that nutjob made it so clear something that we all (along with our friends and family) know-night and day, we are still who we are–firefighters.

Any firefighter, EMT, medic, or cop can attest that the “kid calls” are the worst. Personally, they were bad before I had kids…they got worse when I became a dad, and now as the “Poppie” of six beautiful grandbabies, those calls rip my heart out, but after we first do all we can.  

Mark did all he could last weekend. he was doing what he loved-baseball umpiring, disguised in what none of us would ever admit to as having a “superman” outfit under the baseball clothes. He was “under there,” not thinking he would EVER have to do a “Clark Kent” and switch. But he did-like most of you would do-he instantly “switched,” revealing what he always is–a Firefighter/Medic. A few minutes later other “super heroes” joined him–both on the field, and in the hospital-in their joint heroic attempts to save little Kaiser Carlile.

The issues of “the bad calls” are talked about and better understood these days. We understand that every “pressure cooker” needs some kind of relief. Hopefully, the relief comes to most of us-when identified, when needed – in the forms (in this case) of the many Brothers and Sisters who have reached out to Mark…just to help take the edge off. The “bad calls” hit every one of us….keep your eyes and ears open.  

Our helmets are off to the ballplayers and others who are touched by this horrible loss. Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to the Carlile Family as they seek some level pf peace in the days ahead. And thanks to Mark G, for being and doing what represents the best of us. The media can highlight some of the dumb stuff we all get ourselves into from time to time. But thanks also to them for highlighting the attempts to save little Kaiser’s life, by an umpire disguised as a firefighter-paramedic.

RIP Kaiser Carlile.

BILLY GOLDFEDER, EFO, Billy Goldfederis deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department. He has been a firefighter since 1973, a company officer since 1979, and a chief officer since 1982. He serves on the International Association of Fire Chiefs board of directors, the September 11th Families Association, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. He has taught at FDIC for 30-plus years and is a member of the Fire Engineering editorial advisory board and the FDIC executive advisory board. He writes the “Nozzlehead” column for FireRescue magazine and is in charge of www.firefighterclosecalls.com.

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