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“Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time,” by Michael Perry

“There was this old man, we used to get called to his apartment almost on a weekly basis. He had a heartbeat like a broke-down roller coaster, and every once in a while he’d just check out, and his wife would dial 911. He was usually mildly dazed but smiling and conscious by the time we got there. We answered call after call until finally his old heart cashed in. But I remember walking in his bedroom at 2 a.m. toward the end there, and seeing this little man looking up at us with such trust, and I thought one day I will be the little old man on the bed. And I hope my neighbors come when I call.”

“Thoughts on Fire: Life Lessons of a Volunteer Firefighter,” by Dr. Frank McCluskey

“Tonight, fires will be fought, lives will be saved, children will be rescued and tomorrow when the sun comes up, there will be no trace of what went on. It will be as if these events never happened. Tonight, an invisible network of radio signals will interlock fire departments all over America and connect thousands of bands of local heroes living secret lives that are sometimes so amazing that I ask myself, in the middle of the night, whether it is real or I’m only dreaming.”