Standing six feet tall, broad-shouldered and with short dark brown hair, Rasmus Lund carries himself with an understated self-awareness that instils confidence. His eyes are calm and warm. It’s a reassuring presence. The kind you trust instinctively – and expect from a man of the world. Yet, Rasmus is only 28. But he has already experienced more than most people will experience in an entire lifetime.
“Ironically, when I was a kid, I never dreamt of becoming a firefighter. I never played with that fantasy. It simply didn’t interest me,” recalls Rasmus. “I was an active kid. And I’ve always loved to use my hands. But the thing with firefighting didn’t strike until my adult years.”
However, Rasmus already knew from early on that he wanted to work with helping people.
A life-changing experience
When Rasmus was a young boy, his father had a heart attack. It made a huge impact on Rasmus.
“We were at a birthday party at my cousin’s house. I was about 10-12 years old. We got a call from the hospital. They told us my father was okay, but that he had suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized. Out of the blue, he had suddenly keeled over.”
Rasmus and his mother visited his father at the hospital. Seeing his father attached to a drip with tubes coming out of his veins shocked the young boy.
“It was frightening. My dad had suddenly become fragile and helpless. I really wanted to help – but I didn’t know how. It was tough,” recalls Rasmus. “I started to think if this could happen to my father, it could happen to anyone. And it started something in me that has followed me ever since.”
Rasmus decided then that never again would he stand helpless when others needed help.
“As I grew older, I felt a growing need to help people. And I wanted to see if I could somehow work with it and make it my way of life.”
Action and care
After high school, Rasmus looked for something to do where he could use his hands. Some friends told him that if he wanted to get his hands dirty and help people, the National Emergency Management Agency was the place for him. So, Rasmus joined as a conscript.
At the Emergency Management Agency, Rasmus did his basic training as a firefighter. And he got his first experiences with firefighting and emergency rescue operations.
“It was a great experience. Nothing brings you close to your teammates as fighting a flood endlessly in some desolate cottage area during a storm on a cold November night,” says Rasmus.
After his conscription, Rasmus worked as a lifeguard and kindergarten assistant. Then one day, an old friend took him to visit the local Falck fire station.
“It was exciting. It was action. It was the red fire trucks – not the orange ones as in the Emergency Management Agency. No. This was the real deal. The real fire department. I was excited,” recalls Rasmus. “And I started as a part-time firefighter.”
When he walked through the doors at the local Falck Fire Station, Rasmus thought he knew all about firefighting. Today, he has a humbler attitude – forged by experience and training.
“I walked in thinking I was the best. Boy, was I wrong. It’s not until you ride with the fire department you learn that fires don’t do as they’re supposed to. No two fires are alike – and there’s always an unforeseen element ready to throw you off. It’s a very steep learning curve,” says Rasmus.
To keep Rasmus and his colleagues sharp and prepare them for the unexpected, the firefighters train continuously.
“Our training prepares us for the unexpected by constantly challenging our abilities to adapt to the most extreme situations. In training, you can learn from your mistakes. That’s not an option when lives are at stake.”
At the fire station, there’s a relaxed atmosphere, says Rasmus. He and his colleagues often joke with each other. But as soon as the alarm goes, the atmosphere changes.
“I like the change. In a split second, it goes from relaxed to serious. And you’re 200 pct. focused. You enter a zone where your training takes over. It’s a fluid, professional intuition. You know what to do. Everybody on the fire truck has a specific role and knows what to do already on the way out of the garage,” says Rasmus. “If it’s a serious alarm, it gets very quiet on the fire truck.“
A perfect day
A fire is always bad news. They are destructive. Ironically, it prompts a dilemma for Rasmus and his colleagues.
“I like to have something to do. I like to use my training. And it’s good we’re here to protect people and society in case of fire,” says Rasmus. “But it’s always bad news when we get called. There’s always damage and loss. Even if no people are hurt. So, ironically, for me a good day is when the alarm doesn’t go off.”
But professionally, he still gets impressed by the efficiency and effectiveness with which firefighters like himself and his colleagues combat big fires.
“I was present when Bakken in Denmark burned. It’s the oldest amusement park in the world. The fire was gigantic. We could feel the radiant heat already as we stepped out of the fire trucks. It almost burned our faces. Seeing how efficient and well-coordinated we worked together on that fire was amazing. More than 15 fire trucks. And no one got hurt. That makes me proud.”
Today, Rasmus is an experienced firefighter. He knows himself and what he can do.
“My training and experience have enabled me to act calmly and effectively in extreme situations. I can help. I know how to help. And more importantly, my colleagues know they can trust me to get them out if necessary.”