Ten years ago today, Kyle Robert Wilson, a firefighter in Prince William County (VA) Department of Fire & Rescue, lost his life in the line of duty. I never knew Kyle, but his death had a major impact on the trajectory of my own life.
You see, my brother-in-law, Battalion Chief (Ret.) Steve Strawderman, was the A-side commander of that incident. Steve was the one who made the difficult, yet informed, decision to not send in others to rescue Kyle, in effect saving the lives of others who could have lost their lives in the inferno.
At the time, I was just getting started in my studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies getting a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies. I was interested in studying how people make decisions. I had just discovered the very well researched concept of "flow," which comes out of the world of Positive Psychology. I began to wonder whether being in a flow-state facilitated decision making (it does, by the way). When Steve told me this story about Kyle, I realized that Steve was in a flow-state when he made his decision.
My committee agreed to my idea to study the flow experiences of firefighters in the midst of critical decisions. My life has been forever changed. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study the most amazing, compassionate, dedicated people on Earth. These men and women are my heart.
Rest In Peace, dear Kyle.