Firefighters are the real-life superheroes who save precious lives by braving dangerous situations or even natural disasters. The tough job requirements make this profession clearly too daunting for the fainthearted.
For Shin Sanggyo, the supervisor of the disaster countermeasures team from South Korea, it is his unwavering faith in the universal values of “truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance” that helps him get through trials and challenges while working on the front lines of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, pandemic.
Speaking to The Epoch Times, Shin said as a firefighter, his job is to “be true to others first and treat difficulties with patience.” Shin said that after facing every new trial, he finds that his inner world and character have become more refined. “This job isn’t about wealth or honor. It gives people a chance to give. It is a precious environment,” he said.
A Healthy Mindset
After graduating from college, Shin had tried applying to become a patent attorney but failed the test several years in a row. While studying at his desk one day, Shin couldn’t help but wonder if there were other unknown factors at play that determine why some candidates were able to pass such entrance exams easily while others could not.
Meanwhile, in 2003, when Shin began home-tutoring a student in Daejeon, located in the central region of South Korea, he was introduced to Falun Gong, an ancient mind-body meditation practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.
Shin said that studying for the certification exam was not an easy feat. He would head out for the library in the morning but would often find himself taking a walk at the beach instead. However, after he started practicing Falun Gong, Shin said he could stay focused on studying as his thoughts had become “much simpler.”
“It clearly had an improving effect on my mental health,” Shin said. He added that he also learned “how to be a better person” through studying Falun Gong’s main text, Zhuan Falun.
Apart from the mental health benefits, the practice also assisted Shin to quit drinking and smoking—a habit that he struggled to break out off for 15 years.
Shin said: “There is a saying in Zhuan Falun that one can quit smoking eventually in cultivation. After reading that paragraph two or three times, I was able to quit smoking naturally.”
His friends even thought that it was his determination that finally led to success. “In actuality, it wasn’t out of determination, but rather, the thought of smoking naturally disappeared, which led me to quit,” Shin added.
Saving Lives As One Team
Though Shin initially didn’t aspire to become a firefighter, the opportunity came naturally; there was a fireman test and he was ready to take the exam.
Having passed the test, Shin embarked on his career as a first responder and then served as the chief of a fire department in Incheon, west of Seoul, before he was posted to Ganghwa fire station, where he is working at present as a supervisor of the disaster countermeasures team.
Shin’s everyday work entails educating firefighters and paramedics on how to rescue people safely from disasters. Firefighters often encounter unpredictable situations such as when a tank is on fire; they need to be well aware of any hazardous materials in order to carry out their work safely. Accordingly, Shin strives to constantly upgrade his professional know-how concerning such crucial life-saving topics to make sure he possesses the required skills.
“It’s a job that requires self-development across all aspects,” Shin said, adding that he is also learning foreign languages.
Once, Shin and his team were called to respond to a suicide attempt—a middle school student who was ready to jump off the roof of a building. Unlike a normal situation where one could follow the regular protocols, such demanding situations require firefighters to coordinate excellent teamwork and be on the same page, as any slightest difference in thinking could lead to a fatal outcome.
Fortunately, Shin and his team managed to perform a safe rescue: one person kept attempting to dissuade the boy from jumping while the other person went up to the sloping roof where the boy was sitting and pulled him to safety with a hug.
Putting Others Before Oneself
Shin was the head of the fire station at the time of the middle school boy’s rescue, and he said he had every right to instruct his members to follow his commands. But the conscientious firefighter said he would not hesitate to take a step back and let others take the lead if they had a better idea.
“I trust and follow, and if there is something lacking in their approach, I try to fill in the gap,” he said.
After the CCP virus broke out in South Korea, Shin and his team members saw an unprecedented rise and change in their workload and operations. For instance, when South Korea held a general election in April, the fire department had to ensure there was no risk of fire outbreak at the polling stations; on the day of elections, they were also tasked with driving suspected COVID-19 patients to the polling stations.
Even though there was not a single infection in the vicinity of Ganghwa, the South Korean government required all firefighters and paramedics in the country to wear protective suits while responding to emergencies in case the patient was infected with the CCP virus.
Shin said it usually takes more than five minutes for members to wear protective suits that comprise infection suits, hats, galoshes, and goggles; the time factor can delay their response rate a little. Therefore, despite the hot weather, Shin said they always wear infection protection suits and “wait for the dispatch.”
“For the safety of the citizens and the safety of the firefighters, even if it’s inconvenient, it would be better for us to be safe than sorry,” he said.
Even when he’s off duty, Shin never leaves behind the mindset of a firefighter—public safety always comes first. Though Shin said that wearing a mask all the time can feel “a little stuffy,” he cautioned that if we step out of our homes without a mask, others might feel “nervous.”
The global health pandemic has also resulted in an increased number of meetings for the fire department. As a manager, Shin said he could opt to wait for his members to complete writing their task reports, but instead, when he saw that they had a lot to do and couldn’t manage to submit their reports in time, he would step in to help. For Shin, he wouldn’t be this considerate if he didn’t practice Falun Gong, he said.
“I used to have a bad temper, often getting annoyed and treating others badly,” Shin told Minghui.org. “Now my relationships have changed dramatically because I am able to maintain a peaceful mind and I always try to do better on my part.”
Stand Up Against Injustice
Having benefited from practicing Falun Gong, Shin strives to tell people about the beauty of the practice and also exposes its brutal persecution continuing in China since July 1999.
Falun Gong earned huge popularity for its much-acclaimed health benefits after it was introduced in China in 1992. However, the Chinese communist regime launched a crackdown to “eradicate” the peaceful practice when the number of people practicing Falun Gong exceeded the CCP’s membership. In the last 21 years, countless practitioners have been arrested, imprisoned, and tortured, and some even had their organs harvested.
Shin recalled past incidents when he talked about the 2015 Peabody Award-winning documentary film “Human Harvest” to tell others how the CCP has been profiteering from harvesting Falun Gong practitioners’ organs but how some people used to disregard the seriousness of the matter, saying that “it’s Chinese and it’s not related to them.” However, Shin now hopes people will stop having such an ignorant mindset after witnessing how the initial coverup by the Chinese communist regime led the CCP virus to envelope the entire world, resulting in the loss of numerous lives.
Shin said if any firefighter or paramedic misses the first five minutes of the initial response—the five minutes of “golden time”—it can lead to an entirely different outcome.
“No matter how much you treat a patient after that, the chances of reviving them are significantly reduced,” Shin said. “In that sense, I think the same goes for the coronavirus. Even if the virus had inevitably occurred, if the CCP had not covered up the incident and had released all the relevant data at the beginning, the world would have been able to respond and prevent it. I think it’s a pity that they did not.”
With the whole world struggling to survive amid the pandemic, Shin hopes more people will now step forward when they witness any form of abuse or harm anywhere.
“It seems that when we see injustice, at first glance, it doesn’t seem to be directly related to us. But I want people to speak out as one voice and help prevent any more such wrongs from happening ever again,” Shin said.
Watch His Inspiring Journey in the Video Below:
Additional reporting by Khasub Lee