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David Eigenberg Went on an Intense LA Fire & Rescue-Esque Ride-Along
Here's what the Chicago Fire actor saw — and how it changed him.
Season 1, Episode 2 of LA Fire & Rescue (which aired June 28) was action-packed, to say the least. We watched Watts Station 16 respond to a terrifying warehouse fire and a police standoff call that made viewers bite their nails to the quick. If you're still sweating after watching, you're not alone.
And if you're emerging from this show with a newfound appreciation for firefighters and first responders, you're also not alone. In fact, you're in great company. David Eigenberg, a.k.a Herrmann on Chicago Fire, has been a fan of these folks in uniform for years — and that's not just because he plays one on TV.
"I spend a lot of time with the real guys," Eigenberg told NBC Insider. "Men and women. The first responders are the baseline. [To have that job], you have to have a general concern for the wellbeing of your fellow humans. And they do. It's a privilege to be around it. Because these folks, the first responders, they go above and beyond...We all have watched doctor shows, and all of a sudden they wheel somebody in. [But] there's a difference between wheeling somebody in that might be dying or is dead than seeing somebody in the middle of the road and tangled in a car. Or, you know, god forbid, seeing a child...Nobody else does what they do, you know? Doctors are amazing. Nurses are amazing. It's just different. Somebody's got to be the boots on the ground pulling up."
Interestingly, "Boots on the Ground" is the name of LA Fire & Rescue Season 1, Episode 2, and Eigenberg's thoughts fully encapsulate why it's called that. These firefighters are seeing people at their most vulnerable — before they're rescued and cleaned up and given medical care. It's a harrowing job, and as Eigenberg said, "You can tell when a firefighter's got the miles on him or something bad has happened. They don't wear it on their sleeve. They wear it in their heart. It takes a toll."
Eigenberg saw a minuscule fragment of this when he went on an intense ride-along in Chicago with some firefighters. "I've been on ride-alongs quite a bit, and you see stuff," he said. "The last one I went on this last year, not much was going on. But they got a call, it was a car wreck, and they said there was a kid in the car. And you walk up to the car praying that the kid's OK. And the kid was. I've never seen a kid in a car wreck. I don't want to see it."
But seeing it changed him nonetheless. "You just learn a lot," he said. "You learn about yourself. I drive safer than I used to, you know? I don't need to get somewhere 30 seconds faster."
This article includes reporting from Tara Bennett.