Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 The New and Improved Blog Plan

March 21-27, 2010  Days 184-188

Hi Team!

This past week has been long yet went by quickly. I can’t really explain it except that it is finally over and I am very tired from it all and wishing to go back at the same time.

Friday morning at 2:45 am I was dispatched to a 2-11 (2 alarm structure fire) in a commercial building. It was a medical building and when I arrived it was spewing flames from the front of the building and the roof. Sadly it was arson. The fire chief released us just as my alarm went off (I use my cell phone for an alarm clock) to get up for work. Sigh.

Saturday my husband and I spent four hours at the Fire Training Center going through the practical exercises for CERT and received our certificates. It was a great class and I learned a lot there but I want more than that. I can hardly wait to finish school and get working!

Saturday my brother surprised me with a visit so in the evening the Fire Buff Battalion all went out to Shari’s to meet him and visit. After I dropped him off at his in-laws where he was staying I went home. He had asked that I call him to come play if we got anything and I didn’t expect it to happen. I’ve gone weeks without a call and never had more than one in a week before, but hot damn!… (no pun intended) at 22:30 a call came in. 1-11 in the north end. (Single alarm structure fire) and we got to play!

So, as you see, it has been a busy and constructive week for me. I only got two days of planned exercise in but went on two fire calls which I worked at so that sort of makes up for the one miss. I drank all my fluids for the week but my sleep was in the tank! I must figure out how to improve that and fast.

I have talked about redesigning this blog and now I think I know what to do. I think I will give my self a weekly letter grade. A,B,C or D.  Sort of like a weekly report card.

The subjects will be Physical Training (PT), Study Hall (studying for school), Rest and Recuperation or R and R (Sleep), and Health (where I will report on my fluid intake and occasionally on my weight loss efforts).

The report card will have a section for Extra Curricular activities: Fire Buff Battalion stuff, Dream stuff, etc.

Here is how I will grade myself:

If I purposely exercise 3 times a week I will get an A for Physical Training

2 times a week will be a B

1 time will be a C

No times on purpose will be a D

Studying will be added to my list of things to be held accountable for. (We’ll say a minimum of one hour of study is a unit. I’m sure there will be much more than that.)

5 days of studying gives me an A

4 days will be a B

3 days will be a C

2 days will be a D

Each day I drink at least 2 quarts of fluids including skim milk, water, tea (hot or iced), 100 per cent juice, or sugar free drink mix I will give myself a point.

Seven points will be an A

Five or six points will be a B

Four points will be a C

Three points or below will be a D.

You might notice there are no E grades or Failing grades. I am doing it that way by design. If I am going to do this, failure is NOT an option! I am going to do this, one way or another.

Now, I am not unrealistic. I know I have a lot of challenges that could prevent me from getting to the top of the ladder I’m climbing. I may never be a firefighter/paramedic. Physically it is an extremely demanding job and my old, beat up body might never be able to hack it. But I’m not going to roll over right now and say, “I can’t.” It is not part of my vocabulary. I am going to shoot for the moon. If I become a paramedic and have to work for a private company, I’ll do it. If I don’t make it as far as paramedic, I can be an EMT for a private company. Or even in a hospital.

Either way, I am going to do this. I will be certified to make a difference. Even if I never save a life I can make a difference if one person feels like their emergency was a little more bearable because somebody cared or somebody allowed them some dignity.  Even if I never hear “thank you,” I will know I have made a difference by seeing fear start to subside or by being able to reassure a frightened patient or family member. I want to be there. I want to help.

Last night I sat down to think for a moment and it suddenly hit me! The time between “I’m going to go to school” and “I AM going to school” has disappeared! This is it!  No more talking. This is where the rubber meets the road. Bring it on!

Thanks for staying with me through this. I know I don’t always post interesting things and I ramble, etc. But you, my team, have remained faithful and give me more encouragement than you might ever imagine. Half of you came to my blog by invitation and half of you stumbled upon me one way or another all on your own. Either way, I am grateful to have you here.

I hope you like the new and improved Report From Ladder Company 40. It starts with the week of March 28-April 3rd.

Until then, stay safe!

Hotflash out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Days 178-183

Hi Team!

(March 17-22)

Wow, have I gotten behind or what?!  My life is picking up speed and I am finding it harder and harder to sit down and get my blog done.  And the sad thing is that it isn't because I'm avoiding it.  I like my blog.  I think personally that it can get to be on the boring side when it is all accountability report and no anecdotes to go with it, but I love the the feedback and encouragement I get from blogging.  And when I do have stories to tell it is really fun to tell them.  The problem is simply that there are not enough hours in a day or days in a week to do all the things I want to do.

Why am I rambling about all of this?  Well, it is because it is high time that I find a solution to the problem.
I could, of course, just stop doing some of the things I do to make more time for others.  Actually, I already have.  I could blog less often.  I've done that too.  It isn't going so well because by the time I get to it, I have forgotten details of the very things I am hoping my team will hold me accountable for.  I could stop blogging all together.  I don't want to.  I have made some nice friends here and, as I said before, I appreciate the comments and encouragement I find here.

Those are the only ideas I came up with, save for one.  What is that, you ask?  Okay, so maybe you didn't ask but I'm going to tell you anyway.  The ony solution I can come up with is to revamp this blog.  I don't have all the details yet, but I am thinking of blogging weekly, (on the weekends) reporting on my progress with keeping active, drinking enough fluids and getting enough sleep.  (well, more sleep than I used to anyway.  I am not sure I will EVER get to the point that I get enough sleep!)  It would be a general weekly rating instead of my daily three for three.  I give details of how much I drank, just the number of days I met or exceeded the goal.  Same for exercise and sleep.  Then I will try to tell something about my week in each blog.  That should be easy now.  I have this week to finish up my CERT training.  I am sure there will be something interesting to talk about from that.  Then next week on Monday EMT school starts. 

OMG!  I can't belive it is almost here!  That sure creeped up on me fast!  And CERT classes made me realize I am probably overdue for my second hepB shot.  I wonder if that means I have to start over?  UGH!  I hope not!  Oops, that wasn't what I intended to write about.  Back at the ranch....

I hope that I will have the basic format figured out in my head by this weekend.  I probably will not blog again until then.  I hope that isn't too disappointing for you, my loyal team.  I need your support and encouragement as much as ever and I want you to know I truly appreciate it.  You have been faithful followers and I doubt I would be where I am without you all gently kicking me in the backside from time to time.

Feel free to leave input as to what you would like to see here.  I don't want to make this a chore for you to read as I fear it has been too often already.  If you like seeing certain things here or have questions, please let me know.  I do like to talk.  I just don't always know what to say!

I will write at you all later!

Stay safe!

Hotflash out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Day 176 and 177

Hi Team!

As you saw by my pre-post, I am very happy to announce that I am NOT pregnant!  The thought of being pregnant at 41, having a kid graduating high school when I'm 60 and kissing my last shot at my dream goodbye had stressed me greatly.  Although, after I laid it on the alter, I really started to feel at peace with the possibility.  I knew I would be sad to let go of the dream yet, I started to think it wouldn't be so bad.  And then when I found out for sure I was not, and I told my husband, I really had a flood of mixed emotions.  He said to me, "Well, you were the only one who was worried.  I wouldn't have minded."


For years I wanted another, and he never seemed concerned when we didn't get pregnant.  Now he's the one feeling sad?  Wow.  I never knew he felt that way.  And now I just want to hug him non-stop and tell him how much I love him and how sorry I am for the disappointment.  Not that I personally disappointed him, but I am feeling sad for the loss of what could have been for him.  Does that make any sense?

Well, thanks for letting me just ramble about it a bit.  I feel a little better.

Monday I did not want to go, again, to work out.  I have been having real issues about just getting there lately.  I felt very tired and ill.  I went any way.  (Because Coach Alex doesn't like it very much when I cancel!)   Although I only walked two of the three miles we planned to walk, I was glad that I went.  Alex just happily chatters away while we walk and I occasionally throw a word or two in of my own.  This time she was talking about a lesson she learned when she went to see TD Jakes on Friday night.  And the message was very uplifting to her.  It was uplifting to me in her re-telling.  God is so good.  He always sends the encouragement I need just when I need it.  Sometimes it is something from His word.  Sometimes it is a call from a friend I haven't seen in a while.  Or a new team member for my blog.  Or any number of things.  Every day I feel His blessings upon me and I am very thankful.

Not only did I work out, but I drank all the fluids I set out to drink for the day.  2 1/2 quarts of water and iced tea.  Lately, it has been an effort to get the fluids down too.  Maybe the stress of my busy schedule and anxiety about school is affecting me worse than I thought.  No matter, I have a strong desire to succeed and a good support system. 

I also slept well last night.  I don't remember waking up at all.  But even though I slept through the night, I am very tired.  That is probably due to trying to adjust to daylight savings time more than anything else.  In any case, I had a three for three kind of day.  Yay me!

All in all, it was a really good day. 


Report first:  Slept well, drank 3 quarts today and was as active as possible at work.  It was not a scheduled work out day so I score three for three.  Yay me!

In CERT class tonight, we started Disaster Medical Operations.  Our class tonight was taught by a 25 year veteran paramedic from our town's fire department.  She was funny and fun to learn from.  We had been warned ahead of time not to volunteer for anything.  We didn't have to.  She never asked for volunteers, she chose victims.  And I got to be the one she demonstrated pressure bandaging on.  She was built as solidly as they come but definitely the size of a woman.  Except for her hands!  They were giant MAN sized hands and that woman could grip!  Somehow she gripped the gaping arterial wound in my arm with one hand as she showed how to wrap it and apply pressure at the same time.  Even before she wrapped my arm, I felt my hand start to throb.  Then she wrapped it expertly and tied it in a tight little bow, on the first try without catching her fingers in the bow, with two pairs of nitrile gloves on.  And she made it look simple.  And for her, it WAS simple.  Then she continues holding my hand up showing off her handy work and talking about the technique.  She looked like she might untie it at one point but then I swear I saw an evil grin cross her lips as she stepped away from me and continued to lecture the class.  Then she'd step back and look and talk some more.  She was pleased to see a good vein in my arm and announced she could easily get a 14 guage in there.  NO THANKS!  I didn't sign up for that.  She let out an evil laugh when I declined.  Then she walked away and continued talking again.  My hand started to look a little ashen in color.  My hand and fingers were throbbing.  I swore anyone could see it if they glanced my way.  She kept stealing glances at me.  I was waiting her out knowing it was a test and she was waiting me out, knowing she would win.  Finally I could stand it no longer and tried to non-chalantly untie it.  She stopped talking mid-sentence to ask me why I was taking it off so soon.  And then gave that evil smile again.  I think she likes me.

Later, when we had learned how to triage, she sent a third of the class out while the rest of us were given assignments as vicitms.  Oddly I had another arterial bleed.  This time in my other arm on the upper part.  I was propped up agains the legs of a table, underneath the table for cover.  We had just had a terrible earthquake.  I was in the center of the room.  As I screamed about the spurting bright red blood I waited for somebody to help me.  I freaked out because it was shooting across the room and I knew I was going to die and I just couldn't stop the blood.  Still it was five minutes before anyone looked at me.  She was very nervous and she tied my pressure bandage on me as she talked trying to calm me down.  She was so nervous that she tied it underneath the wound.  And she asked me if I had children to distract me from asking questions about the blood.  I told her I had a 17 year old son then started to freak out because I didnt' know where he was.  She didn't know what to do.  I felt sorry for her.  I wasn't a nice victim.  Finally I felt sorry for her (really I was just feeling glad to be a victim rather than a rescuer!) and I pretended she calmed me down.  I should have been dead by then anyway, right? 

My turn is coming.  Next time I will be the nervous rescuer.  I can't wait to find out what I won't remember.  In fact, with all we covered last night, all I could think about on the way home was how much there is to learn and how little capacity my brain seems to have available.  And this is the tip of the iceberg.  EMT school is less than two weeks away.  Oh BOY!

Thursday night we will cover Disaster Medical Operations, part two.  I'm nervous but looking forward to it.  If nothing else, when I graduate from CERT I will have learned a few skills and will have had some wonderful networking opportunities at the very least.  I am hoping for more than that.  I am hoping to feel comfortable practicing my new skills and I hope to feel more confident that I am ready for a true emergency and ready to help.  God help me.  Even though this is strictly voluntary, it is a big responsibility.   I want to rise to it and do it right.

Stay safe, team!

Hotflash out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Day 176 (Pre-post)

Hi Team!

Guess what???

. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:)   :)  :)  :)  :)  :)

Now I am a happy camper!

Stay safe!

Hotflash out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Days 174 and 175

Hi Team!


I am feeling much less freaked out and more calm today.  On my way to work this morning I laid everything on the alter.  I told God how I felt about this whole thing.  I admitted selfishness in that I really want to pursue this dream of mine and I am not eager to give it up.  But I love God and I know He loves me and wants what is best for me.  I realize what amazing obstacles have already been overcome to get as far as I have and I still feel in my heart that He has directed every step of the way.  Then I thought about some of my recent words.
"Nothing is going to stop me."  "I'm not going to give this up for anything."  "I'm going to have my cake and eat it too." And the list goes on.  Things I said to keep myself motivated, but also prideful things.  I realized that living this dream is my Isaac.    And I prayed God would forgive me for putting it first above all else.  I had been cautioned against this by my friend Gigahertz and still I let it happen.  I prayed that God would take my life and use it for His will.  That he would use it to glorify Him.  I told him I would give it all up if that is what He asked of me and I prayed that if I should have to He would fill my heart with gladness and fulfillment in His will.  I prayed many more things on the way to work that morning.  Finally, I find I am at peace. 

I still don't know if I am pregnant or not, though I suspect not.  I have taken two tests and both have come back negative.  However, I have not had any corroborating evidence.  I still don't like not knowing.  But I am not freaking out. 

To those of you who have been sending me well wishes and offering prayers on my behalf, I thank you so much. 

OKAY, report time!

I slept fairly well last night, surprisingly.  I guess when one gets tired enough that will happen.  By the time my morning shift ended however, I was feeling pretty tired and run down.  Again, I only showed up for my walk with Coach Alex because I didn't want to be "disciplined" for not doing so.  LOL  (Because Coach Alex is SOOOOO scary!)  Seriously though, I was glad I went, as I always am.  And Coach rewarded me with a white chocolate dark cherry mocha.  Mmmmmmm!  Besides the coffee, I had two quarts and 12 oz. of watered down juice today.  That puts me at three for three!  YAY ME!


I slept VERY well last night.  :) =D  =)    Today I drank well over three quarts of fluids but they were not all good ones.  There was about one quart of water, one and a half quarts of iced tea, 8 oz. of dark beer (left over from cooking for my potluck), some juice and lots of punch (consisiting of lime juice, 7-up and strawberry-kiwi sherbet) at the potluck.  I was as acive as I usually am for a Saturday which isn't terribly, but I have done everything I am supposed to do so I am saying three for three today.

It was a day of running for me.  First I took my mom and step dad to the train station so they could go to band camp.  Mom plays tenor sax and Pop plays barry.  Mr Flash and I got them all settled at the train station and then went to take my Explorer in for a recall issue.  (of course they called it a courtesy repair, not a recall).  As we pulled out of the dealership in my husband's truck my cell phone rang.  It was my mom all upset that they had forgotten her walker.  My mom needed the walker to be able to move around on the train and she even uses it most of the time at home.  Luckily she has made an excellent choice and had arrived at the train station nearly an hour early.  My husband and I scrambled to get to the train station, pick up Pop, take him back to the house for the walker and a few other things he wanted to look for and we got him back just in time to board.

Next we drove to the fire training center so I could show my husband where it is.  Our next CERT class is being held there and we both will be arriving in separated vehicles straight  from work.  After that we had to do some grocery shopping.  UHG!

By the time we finished all of the running around, we had barely time enought to change clothes and run out again to go to a party!  the Fire Buff Battalion St. Patty's Potluck.  We got home around 9:30 pm but since we lost an hour, we counted it as 10:30 and hit the sack.

Stay safe, my friends!

Hotflash out.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Report from Ladder Company 40 Day 173

Hi Team.  (No explanation point, sorry)

I am still very freaked out.  A little more calm but still freaked out.  I know I should not be when I don't have any evidence one way or the other, but it's easier to know that than to practice it.  I keep thinking about it.  My kids would be 18 years apart.  I'd be sixty when my kiddo was ready to graduate.  I guess that is one way to ward of empty nest syndrome.  Sigh.  I just feel like if that happens, I'll have to kiss my dream goodbye again.  And it won't be revived after that.  I'm pushing it now.  I think I've gone from panicky to feeling very low.

I told my husband.  He took it like I knew he would.  He stayed very calm and didn't appear the least bit concerned.  He said I shouldn't stress it until I knew something.  I said that I knew that.  Then he started to get on my case about "why are you stressing then?"  I had to explain to him what I just said in the first paragraph of this post.  It's easy to know when you're being irrational.  It's not so easy to change the feelings that go with it.

Those closest to me who know what I am going through are having a wonderful time of it.  The evil laugh of my assistant when I told her was almost unbelievable.  Then later she came to me out of the blue and said to me, "Mrs, Hotlash, I'M NOT!" and jumped up in the air and clicked her heels together. 

At first, being out of context of our work, I didn't know what she was talking about and I said, "Not what?"
But the big gleeful smile and the evil laugh that followed made me realize what she was talking about.  She is having WAY too much fun at my expense.

I told my mom tonight and now she's freaked out FOR me.  Even she commented on how ironic it is though.  Another time would have been fantastic!  Now, not so much.

OKAY:  Report time.

I didn't sleep much at all. :(  I did drink plenty of fluids... Nearly three quarts.  Most of it was sugar free iced tea drink mix, though I did allow myself a glass of Cherry Pepsi at lumch out with my staff today, but only one 12 oz. glass!  That's a habit that could re-form WAY too easily.  Since lunch was also a staff meeting and I ran errands for work during my entire split today, I worked 12 hours straight today.  I didn't go out of my way to exercise but it was not an exercise day for me either.  I can fairly claim two for three for the day.

In Ladder Climbing news:

My second CERT class was tonight.  The topic was "small fire suppression".  Our fire departments inspector taught our class tonight.  We covered all kinds of  prevention stuff, more in depth than most talks and lectures I have heard in the past.  We talked about how fast fire grows and about the kinds of conditions that can change rapidly during a fire.  We covered the importance of the buddy system and that reverting to "Plan A" was always a good option to take. (Plan A is RUN AWAY!)  After lots of lecture, lengthy question and answer periods, and a few videos, we were ready to put on our green CERT helmets, goggles and gloves and go practice with the fire extinguishers.

My CERT issued gloves were a joke!  I think they would have been too big for my feet, with my shoes ON!  When I saw them on Tuesday night I made it a point to make time to go buy gloves that would work better for me.  I had a hard time finding leather gloves small enough.  I found some that were close but on some parts of the back of the hands there was some kind of "polysomething" fabric.  I didn't know if the CERT class instructors would accept them as a substitue for the standard issue "one size fits all" (that doesn't really) gloves.  I needent have worried.  When my partner and I stepped up to take our turn putting out the fire, the Fire Inspector looked at my gloves as I took the extinguisher from him. 

"I see you got some practical gloves!  Nice going," he said.

Sadly, we did not get to put out any real fires, though it had been planned that we would at least have flames!  They use a computer operated fire machine, for lack of anything better to call it.  It creates controlled flames and you spray the extinguisher at the sensors on the side panel of the machine that the flames come out of to simulate sweeping across the base of the fire with the blast from the extinguisher.  Unfortunately, while we were inside the classroom, the rain messed with the machine and then the Inspector was not able to ignite the fire.  So we put out invisible ones.  BORING  but probably not any more boring than putting out "fake" fires.  Still, I guess it's better to have fake fires than to be called on to put out real ones.  I guess!  Seems logical anyway.  Unless you're a goofball like me who has dreamed of doing just that her whole life.  Sigh.  (At least my bro lives my dream!  -well... Part of it anyway.  He isn't a paramedic.)

Last but DEFINITELY not least, I want to wish a BIG WARM WELCOME and THANK YOU to Brian for joining my team and following my blog!  I have been enjoying his blog:   Switch 2 Plan B: Misadventures of a Firefighter   http://www.switch2planb.com/

*Note to Brian:  I have to admit I was a little embarrassed at the thought that you joined when my "freaking out" post was the post of the day!  But you have a wife.  I'm sure you understand. LOL  And it really made my day to see you as my new blog follower!

I cannot tell you all enough how much it means to me that you stick with me even through the most boring posts and continue to encourage me and lift me up in prayer the way you do.  I feel so blessed to have friends like all of you.  Even the ones I have not met.  I hope some day to have the pleasure of meeting all of you.  I'd give you a great big hug of appreciation, that's for sure!

Stay safe everyone!

Hotflash out.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Day 172

Hi Team!


I am feeling crappy still though the nausea seems to have passed.  OMG!! as I write this I realize that many of my recent symptoms are reminiscent of... AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! NO it CAN't BE>>> I am NOT pregnant!  But I have been way tired lately.  And I am peeing a lot.  I mean often but not a lot at all.  YIKES!! I better not be late!  As if I can judge that.  I haven't been regular in three years!  OMG OMG OMG!!!  I'm really scared!!!  That would SO suck!!!  Just this past weekend I saw a mom with a teeny tiny infant and said, "Oh, I want one of those..." then shocked myself when I quickly said, "But not to keep!"  I was just thinking I had finally passed a major milestone in my life.  OMG!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!

OK, stop freaking out.  Nothing to worry about until I know something.  RIGHT?  I cannot believe that I am going through this thought process on my blog.  Well, that's life.  It IS part of my journey right now.  OMG I am freaking out!  I mean like... almost panicky!  The timing would really suck!  I WANT TO BE A PARAMEDIC!!! 

I'm too freaked out to write right now.  Sorry to leave you hanging!

Stay safe! 

Hotflash out!

Report From Ladder Company 40 Days 170 and 171


Ok I admit it.  I only exercised today because I was afraid to call Coach Alex and cancel.  I'm glad I walkd though!  I just felt so tired and worn out.  Even after 12 hours of bed time on Friday night.  I drank my fluids today, two quarts plus a little more.  I don't remember what time I went to bed Sunday night so I'll be conservative and say I am two for three though I may have been better than that.  I am still feeling crappy. 

I just feel sick to my stomach, and very tired.  Nothing else to report for Monday.


Well, I have had a headache all day but otherwise have been feeling a little better.  No nausea.  I drank about 3 quarts today of WATER, and iced tea.  I have kept busy today, not exercising on purpose but not lazy either.  It isn't a scheduled workout day so I am giving myself three for three. (oh, I got a fair amount of sleep!) 

Today was the first CERT class.  We have quite a varied bunch of volunteers taking this class.  Child Care directors, , Paramedic wannabe, School librarian, Traffic engineer, architect, safe streets leaders, former first responders from NY, retired CIA, young adult neighbor of mostly elderly people, military guy just back from Afghanistan and his wife, etc.  Great mix!  This should be very interesting.

We got our green CERT helmets, goggles and gloves made for andre the giant! (seriously, I couldn't do anything in my gloves if my life depended on it!)  I will have to go find some other gloves and buy them.  We are required to bring these items to each class hereafter.  When the class is over we will be issued substantial disaster kits.  I am told they cost the city 60 dollars each before tax.  I can see waiting to make sure we are serious before issuing them.  We are not being charged a penny.  And they feed us too.    Today was pretty much orientation to CERT.  Thursday we will launch into small fire suppression.  Using extinguishers complete with practical exercise.  I hope they'll accept whatever gloves I find as a substitute for what was issued.  My gloves would be too big for my feet with shoes on!

Not much else to report.

Stay safe!

Hotflash out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Days 168 and 169

Hi Team!


Today was a humdrum kind of day.  I went to bed a little past 8pm last night, or maybe a little closer to 9, I'm not quite sure but friday night wrestling was still on (UGH!).  I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and Brian did not get me up until 8 this morning so I had PLENTY of sleep last night.  I drank 2 quarts of juice/sugar free drink mix today, barely.  I did not go exercise even though I am a little behind.  I simply did not feel that well today.  I have to give myself a two for three.  I did go with my husband to help my mother-in-law pick up one of her two vehicles that were in the shop and then we went to breakfast together.  It was nice to catch up with her for a change.  We only live 6 tenths of a mile from her and we both love her dearly, but we haven't been connecting much lately.  I enjoyed our morning together.  After that Brian and I did some much needed grocery shopping.  How fun!   (NOT)  After that, I was pretty lazy the rest of the day.  The long week must have caught up with me because even after 12 hours of rest I am still exhausted.


Today I am in worse shape than yesterday.  I woke up feeling fine.  But after I ate breakfast (the largest banana I have ever seen -and I shared it with my gluttonous brat), I started to feel nauseous and that remained feeling that way for pretty much the remainder of the day.  I went to church anyway and then came home and napped.  Nothing else was accomplished today.  I awoke around dinner time feeling much better.  I did get two quarts of sugar free drink mix down today, after dinner.  I simply didn't feel like or think about drinking anything much earlier.  That makes me 2 for three again today.  Could be worse.  I'll try to get better, I just think my body got worn out.

Stay safe!

Hotflash out.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Day 167

Friday  (FINALLY!!!)

Hi Team!

I did it.  I survived to Friday.  I'm not sure how.  But I did drink three quarts of iced tea and juice today and I slept 7 hours.  YAY ME!  (I did not go meet Coach Alex to walk today so I have to take a two for three today.)  Instead, I met with a fellow Fire Buff Battalion member and our most recent wannabe (John) to go visit some fire stations.  John has been an unofficial buff for a long time and has taken a lot of pictures and posted them on various websites he has created.  Photographing fire apparatus is a hobby of his and he wants to be a firefighter some day.  He is kind of shy and so is Firekat, the member that went with us.  I claim to be the shy one but they put me to shame.

We went to station 15 first.  When we got there, Firekat told us to go ahead of her.  John starts to go to the back fo the fire station and I tell him to follow me, the front is over there (pointing).  He says to me,
"I never knock on door before" (he is Japanese with good but not perfect English) "I always stop when they are washing trucks."  This particular fire station is a converted house with a large bay built along side of it for the fire engine.  The windows on the bay door are so far up that none of us can tell if anyone is even in quarters.  I told him we'd have to knock because no one was out and proceeded to lead the way.  Being shy as I am, I signalled for him to go first when we got to the door.  He backed away quickly.  I looked at Firekat who very quickly said, "Don't look at me!"   AUUUUUGGGGHHHH!  Okay.  Babies!  I knocked on the door.  They both stepped back.  The door opened and I was holding a clear plastic box of home made chocolate chip cookies in front of me.  An older fireman looks down at us and says, "Nobody's home!  Go away!  (I am sure he has noticed my fire buff battalion patch on my sleeve of my coat and Firekat is wearing a fire buff battalion sweatshirt).  I said, "But we have home made cookies!"  He opened the door wide and looked at only me saying, COME ON IN!!!  Funny how cookies always seem to break the ice.  I introduced myself to him and the other two firefighters, who came to the door when they heard "cookies" and I introduced Firekat and John and explained why we were there.  They were so kind and obliging!  One of the guys pulled the engine out onto the apron and another one said, "Hey, it's kind of dirty from the last shift.  It's got a little mud on it, should we wash it?"  The officer nodded in the affirmative and the three of them began washing it.  I tried to make some small talk with one of the firefighters just so I could feel a little more comfortable.  John was kind of demanding, I thought, in his requests but I think it was a cultural thing in how he went about it.  I tried to throw in the pleases and thank you's and explain a little about what John was doing this for.  The guys were very obliging moving the engine into the best light, closing the bay doors, removing the helmet from the dash and out of the picture, etc.  They joked with us and were really very nice.  They quizzed John on CPR because he told them that one of the guys from the C shift had been his instructor.  I told them about my dream of becoming a paramedic and that I was starting school soon and hoped to be doing my ride-alongs with our fire department.  They were very encouraging.  Our visit got cut short when they got a call but they thanked us for  our interest and thanked Firekat and myself for our work with the Battalion telling us how much they really appreciated us working to take care of them.  Aw shucks!  They are way too kind.  I love firemen!

When we left 15's we went to 8's.  I had never been in 8's in their current building but always wanted to.  (Remember I grew up near 8's original station house).  At 8's John knew one of the firefighters.  She remembered him so that made things a little smoother.  They were happy to see cookies and were then willing to oblige us as well.  I told one of the guys I would  never show up to a fire station empty handed and he laughed.  We talked quite a bit while John was making requests and doing his thing with the camera.  This guy, whose name escapes me now doggonit, was around the old 8's when my brother was around there.  I was telling him that I grew up four houses to the south of the old 8's and he started asking me questions about when and exactly where.  He knew the exact house but he was there several years after I was gone from the area.  I told him about some of my brother's antics and he had heard all about him.  In fact he knew very well who my brother was!  My poor bro, his reputation preceeds him!  He is infamous.  I told the guy my brother grew up to be a good guy and a father of six and a fireman.  He was quite impressed.  He almost choked when I said they all lived in a fire station and of course I had to explain.  He thought that was really cool and said so.   I told him my brother was pretty embarrassed about his legendary past but he blew it off.  He said we all do things when we're kids and then we grow up. Then he started telling me about his kids.  It was really fun talking with him.   Later he asked me what I did and I told him what I currently do and about school and my dreams.  I even admitted that I grew up secretly wanting to be Roy DeSoto, to which he laughed again.  I told him that I knew it was likely too late to become a career fire department paramedic but that I was going to do my best and see where it took me.  He asked why I thought it was too late and I told him about an email I got from a new fire chief back east that I had contacted.  (She just became the first full time female fire chief in her state!) She told me that if I was looking at a paid gig, civil service, then 41 was too old to get started but that if I was interested in a volunteer department to go apply.  This firefighter said that was not true.  He added that it might be where she's from but that our town did not have a cut off for civil service.  He told me of a man who was 51 when he was hired on as a rookie just a few years ago.  He told me to not give up and to go for it!  Forget could nine, I'm now on could 57!  I LOVE FIREMEN!  (Did I mention that already?)

Shortly after that Engine 10 pulled up to station 8 and the Lt. of 8's went to the engine to talk to the crew.  After about five minutes, Firekat and I were talking to each other waiting for John to finish up his pictures and Engine 10's crew was ready to leave.  We didn't know it though.  Before they pulled out they turned on every loud noisemaker they could and Firekat screamed a little and we both jumped out of our skin!  I may have screamed a little too, I don't know because I was watching Firekat and hearing her scream!  After Engine 10 was a half a block away they turned off their siren.  So I guess they did it on purpose!  GOOD one guys!  You GOT us!!!  It's nice to be loved!

When we left 8's we tried to deliver cookies at 7's but they were not home and we waited until John had to leave for work.  We dropped John off at his car and drove back to 7's to wait for them.  After a while though, we gave up and decided to go to 10's.  I'm sure they would have gotten a kick out of it if they had been home but they were out too so we tried 11's, which was on my way home.  They too were out.  Busy day I guess for the local FD.  I can't give away the last dozen cookies.  Oh well.  My staff are looking foward to them.

Yesterday, I told my staff I would be visting fire stations today and that  I had to bake cookies when I got home last night.  One of them said, "Sure, she makes cookies for the firefighters but she forgets all about us!"  I said if they called me Chief I would bring my crew cookies!  When I got there I found my teacher and called her Captain.  I gave her cookies.  My assistant was the Leiutenant and our substitute assistant was the boot.  (he asked if he could at least be the helmet! LOL  I had to explain what boot meant.)  They didn't seem to mind.  They like cookies as much as firemen do.

Today at work I was so tired that I couldn't even write an incident report without sleeping.  Seriously, my eyes were open but I had no control over what I did.  I was writing a report about a child's unsafe behavior.  It started out fine.  "Joe's" behavior was unnaceptable when he continuously tried to leave the play area today.  There was a stranger on the playground who had balloons and he kept trying to talk to this person even after he was talked to several times about it.  Ms. "McGillicutty" attempted to discuss the......   (you won't believe what I wrote next) "beholden monkey stealth."  Suddenly, after I wrote it my brain started to re-engage and I thought to myself, "What did I just write?"  Then I looked.

"...attempted to discuss the beholden monkey stealth."

What in the WORLD???????
Where did THAT come from????  What does it even mean?

Oh my gosh I am SO tired!!!

Okay, not only am I so tired, I am certifiably insane.  On that note...

Stay safe.

Hotflash out.

Report From Ladder Company 40 Days 165 and 166

Hi Team!


Well, I did not meet with Coach Alex today because I had an early release day at work, meaning I had to come in early to greet kids that got out early.  In addition, I had a meeting with the Fire Buff Battalion during the shorter split.  Today I received my set up for my car to be used as Canteen 6.  I got two magnetic signs, gatorade, water, and cookies.  I just need an ice chest now.  (pictures coming in a future post)

I did well on fluids today.  3 quarts!  YAY me.  I did not go exercise but was again very active at work, especially since I had an extra two hours and extra children.  I slept about 7 hours so that makes me three for three.  I'm still really tired though.  It is hard to catch up on missing sleep.


Good gracious me, I am TIRED!!!!!!!!!!  I am a walking Zombie, officially!  I drank two quarts today, barely.   I was as active as I usually am on a non scheduled exercise day.  But I can only claim 2 for three because last night I did not sleep.  It wasn't my fault but as tired as I have been this week already, I'm not gonna try to defend it.  I'm just too beat.  Here's what happened:

It seems my dog got into the garbage this morning, where she found about 2 1/2 pounds of chocolate. It had been mixed with Craisins and was a great snack, until the craisins crystallized (well the sugar in them did anyway) and left a texture that was less than desirable (apparently) to my son and husband. My son threw them away.

Although my dog is not perfect, Kaylee has always been pretty well behaved even without formal training. However, lately she has decided to knock over recycle bins and the garbage can every time she is left home alone. Usually we put the trash can in the bathtub to prevent this. Unfortunately, my son forgot to put it back after his shower. When I came home after my morning shift the can was knocked over and there was garbage strewn about. I cleaned it up after scolding Kaylee and didn't think about it again. I did not know that it HAD been full of chocolate.

When I came home from my morning shift, Kaylee seemed a bit more "clingy" for lack of a better way of describing it. She wanted lots of cuddles and attention. Okay, so I figured she was lonely. No big deal, I took a nap because I was exhausted from the night before and Kaylee cuddled up to me and napped too.

That night after dinner and after everyone else had gone to bed, I was starting on writing my blog. (I did not finish it due to the next event but I saved it and finished it later.) As I was writing, suddenly I heard Kaylee start to wretch. Oh no! I turned to look at her and she threw up chocolate puke all over my carpet. I ran to get something to clean it up and before I got back and cleaned it, she had done it three more times in different places. (Sorry to gross anyone out!) I cleaned up several messes and called my husband out of the bedroom to give me a hand. Kaylee went and drank a bunch of water then tried to settle on the couch next to me while I petted her and tried to comfort her. By this time I had figured out she had eaten chocolate because it looked and smelled (sorry) like chocolate. But I had no idea where she got it or how much she ate. After about an hour of this happening over and over and after a lot of prayer, she seemed to settle down and want to sleep. I let her curl up in my lap in the recliner chair and we started to go to sleep. Shortly after the light was off she did it again. All over my top blanket. In order to contain it and to try and keep my second blanket from getting yucky, I wrapped her up in the top one. Of course, this covered her in the mess. I hollered for my husband because I could not let go of the dog to un-recline the chair and I couldn't get up with it reclined. He came and took the bundle from me and started her bath. I got the laundry started. This cycle of puking, drinking water and trying to sleep lasted all night. My husband took over her care at 11:45 because he knew I had been up the entire night before due to the fire. ( I LOVE my  husband!!)

I am happy to report that at about 4:00 Kaylee stopped puking and she has been fine ever since. Thank God!! I really thought she was a goner this time. I would have been SO sad. I love that little brat. (get it? She's a weiner dog! hee hee)  -sorry

Sorry this  has been posted so long after the time it should have been.  I had it almost finished in draft form but not posted because I kept falling asleep at the keyboard before I could finish and post it.  Now I'm playing catch up!

Stay safe!

Hotflash out.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Day 164

Hi Team!


WOW I am TIRED!!!   :)   And happy!  Last night at 10:45 pm we got a call for a structure fire.  Reported to us as a garage fire that moved into the house.  I woke up fast enough to get the light on, grab paper and pen and get the address written down before Our fearless leader finished the PTT call out.  Then I radioed back, "This is Flash.  I am responding!" 

The fire was less than three miles from my house.  My heart was pounding as it sunk in that this was a working fire.  I remember thinking, "This is silly that I would get so excited.  I'm not going to FIGHT the fire.  I'm going to support the guys who do."  Still, I was excited.  My husband chatted with me briefly as I threw my clothes on and got ready to head out the door.  

"Be careful," he said.
"I will, but my job isn't dangerous, you know." I replied.
"I know, but drive carefully, and you never know what can happen," he answered.
"Yeah, I know."  As I tied my shoe I looked up at him.   "Wanna come with me?"
"Are you crazy?  I'm going back to bed!"

I ran out to the car and opened the back, grabbed my orange turnout coat and threw it in the passenger seat up front.  It had the Fire Department ID on the front of it and I knew I might need it to get past police blocking intersections near the fire.  I "raced" down the road.  (Actually I drove the speed limit because I have no special privileges, but with the streets fairly empty, it was kind of racing.   My heart was.  I certainly wasn't dawdling!)  About half way to the fire I found myself on a main thoroughfare following about two blocks behind a fire engine running lights and sirens.  We were headed south.  The fire was ahead to the south west of where we were.  About three blocks from where it will be necessary to head west, the fire engine pulled over on the east side of the road.  I thought, "?????????"  and then as I passed I saw them hopping out, removing turn out coats and heading into an apartment building.  Ah, another call.  Not a fire.

When I got to the intersection where I would need to turn west, it was full of smoke hanging low.  It was not impeding visibility but I could see that the Fred Meyer parking lot on the south west corner was full of smoke too, and it was fairly heavy.  The light was green for me but nobody was going anywhere.  I thought to myself, "This is weird."  I looked around.  No visible flashing lights except several blocks to the west and they were stationary.    I looked again to the left, the right, in front of me, behind me in the mirror.  Nope, nothing.  No emergency vehicles coming.  The light was still green.  Still nobody was moving.  "Okay people, I am on my way to the fire.  I don't have time for this."  I looked again, all directions then slowly pulled out into the intersection and turned west.  A few blocks down was a fire engine blocking the oncoming lane.  I turned south the block before it and approached the scene from behind.  Surprisingly there were no police cars blocking my way this time around.  (Last fire I responded to I had to show my ID to get through.  When they saw it, they just rolled their eyes at me and waved me through.)  I parked about a half a block from the nearest fire engine.  I did not want to be in the way.  I jumped out of my car, grabbed my coat and threw it on, reattaching my ID badge as I did so.  I shut and locked the car and started heading rapidly toward the fire, in search of the chief to find out where he wanted us.  Citizens were everywhere.  The first couple who saw me approaching stopped me and said, "excuse me ma'am.  Are you the fire inspector?"  LOL  "Uh, no."  I'm laughing inside.  "I'm with the canteen." (That's what it says on my BUTT!) "Oh," they said and I headed off on my way.  ( in retrospect I kind of wish I had glanced toward the burning structure, squinted my eyes with my hand open above them as if trying to scan farther and said, "Yep.  That there... THAT's a fire!  -I would never do that!)  I was the first of the Fire Buff Battalion to arrive on scene.  My car wasn't set up as a canteen unit yet.  I had no water, no gatorade, no cookies and no signage.  I approached the scene and crosed over some small red hose sphaghetti.  There was a gaggle of about 6 or 8 firefighters kind of huddled and talking.  I could see a blue hat (safety), red hat (officer) and a lot of yellow hats.  I didn't see the chief.  I saw that nobody was overly concerned with the citizens milling around close to them also stepping over red sphagetti.  There were no flames visible from where I was in front of the garage.  There was a steady stream of smoke still.  One of the guys in the huddle of firefighters looked my direction.  I could see he recognized me as one of the good guys from the crew that re-hydrates and feeds and takes care of him and his buddies.  He smiles my direction.  I can do nothing helpful yet so I smile and wave and just look cute.  Sigh.  Where is the rest of our crew?  Patience!  "Remember," I told myself.  "You were the closest.  They'll be here soon."  I staood around looking pretty for about 10 minutes before the cavalry arrived but we set up quickly and firemen started coming over before we even finished.  We passed out a lot of water, gatorade and cookies. The chief talked to us and told us what was going on.  He told us how much he appreciated what we were doing for them.  The firefighters thank us, tell us how much they appreciate us, and give us  hard time.  This is great!  They only give you a hard time like that when they like you.  When they accept you like their own.  We were there until nearly one in the morning.

Our crew went to Coffee afterwards at an all night diner.  We shared stories, observations and laughs.  I looked at Mike, one of our crew.  He is twice my height.  (well almost :) )  He has heard abaout the couple that approached me when I got there.  I looked up at him and said, "Excuse me sir, are YOU the fire inspector?"  He looked down the end of his nose at me, towering over my 4'10 inch self.  "Yes," he says sternly.  We laughed.  This is a lot of fun.  I am glad I got involved.

I got one hour of sleep last night.  I did not exercise on purpose but I was very active at work.  I also drank 2 1/2 quarts of water and lemonade today.  Yes! you read me right... WATER!  Okay, fluids, activity, good... that's 2!  I get to count 3 though because i was responding to a call!  LOL either that or 2 + 10!!!

Stay safe!

Hotflash out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Days 162 and 163

Hi Team!

Sunday was a good day.  I went to church and then my husband and I had a "date" and went to lunch.  Just the two of us.  It was a nice time.  We have been married nearly twenty years but through out that entire time I don't think we have gone out, just the two of us, for simply the purpose of enjoying our selves and each other more than about 50 times.  And I think that is probably a generous guess.  My husband isn't and really never was the dating type.  We spent a lot of time going out with his family, or him coming to things our family was doing.  We went on some dates, but they were not what most people would call dates.  We went scouting for animals in the woods and did some hiking, picked up a lot of garbage in the woods, that sort of thing. LOL  I just love when we have REAL (by that I mean TRADITIONAL) dates, even if they are rare.

I drank fluids all day long and didn't keep track because my hubby has been very congested and I have had some issues with it as well.  I wasn't any more or less active than I am on any other Sunday and I did sleep well so I am calling it three for three.

On Friday I think it was, I found the blog of Peter Canning, a paramedic and writer.  He has also worked in government and has done a lot to further the advancement of EMS and build its status as a valued profession. 

I have read one of his books, Paramedic 471 and am currently reading the book he wrote prior to that, Paramedic.  Both are very good books.  Paramedic 471 tells of several of the calls he has run over the years and how he has handled them.  It shares successes, not so successful calls, the ups and downs he went through and so forth.  He shares what it was like working with various people and all of that.  He was an experienced paramedic when he wrote that one.  Paramedic was written before that one.  In it he is a brand new paramedic and he talks a lot about his doubts and fears as far as his abilities are concerned.  I have found it challenging to read Paramedic because I often feel a lot of similar doubts and fears.  I just don't have the confidence for the job yet.  I know it will come in time and I am not horribly worried about it but it was kind of affirming to read the same kinds of feelings coming from someone I admire in the profession. 

Anyway, I found his blog, Street Watch Notes of a Paramedic http://medicscribe.com/ and I just love it.  Mr. Canning clearly loves his profession.  He is passionate and wants to help others with the same passion be better Paramedics and continue learning to be the best that they possibly can be.  His blogs are informative and easy to read.  I was very impressed.  I went to the page to contact him and sent him a message:

My name is "Hotflash."  I am 41 and making a career change. As a child I always wanted to be a paramedic. I ended up working as a manager of school-aged child care programs for the last 20 years instead. Now I am going for my dreams. I start EMT school the end of March and I am taking CERT training during the month of March. Enough about me though, here is what I really wanted to ask you:

What suggestions would you give me to help me in this journey? For example, Is there anything you wish you would have known before you started going to school to become a paramedic? Anything you can tell me along those lines would be appreciated.

Also: I read Rescue 471 and it was eye opening and fascinating. I finally got my hands on a copy of Paramedic and I am reading it now. In it you expressed many of the doubts and fears I am feeling right now, even before I start classes. If I hadn't read Rescue 471 first and seen for myself your confidence and what experience did for you, I don't know if I could continue to read Paramedic because as much as I want to do this and feel I was born to do this, I'm scared. And admittedly, my being twice as old as most of the students is a little intimidating too. What are some strategies that worked for you in beating the doubt monster down? Any advice you have to offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for sharing your stories in your books and thank you in advance for allowing me to contact you through this blog site.

Yours Truly,

(I used my real name but that doesn't matter here.) 

On Sunday I was pleased to get this in my inbox:

Hi Hotflash-

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you are enjoying my books.

I think your best bet in class is to read the material carefully and don't be afraid to ask questions. Also, take every opportunity you have to ride as an observer on an ambulance or to do ED observation time if allowed while in class. If the instructors see you are serious about doing this, they will give you extra help.

best of luck and I hope you find EMS as rewarding as I have, i know many people who have entered this career in their 40s and been glad they did.

Peter C

I was very happy to get a response.  I know he is a very busy man but I appreciate that he took the time to write back.  I most appreciated his last sentence though.  All of you have told me not to sweat the age thing, but it really is hard to ignore when all the people I have seen and met so far trying to get into this field are almost young enough that I could be their mother!  I just wanted to share this with you because it was very encouraging to me.


Today was another good day.  Although I was worried at the start of it.  When I left this morning to go to work, I got to my car and stepped up on the running board to get in.  (Remember I am a shorty and I drive a full sized SUV).  Somehow over the weekend, I'm not even sure when, I pulled something in my left side and a pain shot through me that almost caused me to fall.  OH BOY did it hurt!  I was really worried that it would prevent me from doing much today but I prayed about it and went to work.  I went for my walk with Coach Alex and her son, James too.  I only did two instead of three miles today and I skipped the stairs.  And I spent a good ten minutes stretching before I even started.  But I am happy to say that I didn't let it stop me altogether and I am glad.  I still hurt tonight but usually only when I try to step up with my left leg.  I took some ibuprofin and I am trying to push those fluids.  With any luck, by wednesday, I'll be back on the stairs. 

I made my quota of fluids just barely today.  Two quarts of greentea/lemonade.  I really didn't get enough sleep last night, truth be told so that is only 2 for three,  in all honesty.  Before I call it a night, I promised a pic when I got the patch on my coat.  And I have forgotten a few times now to post it.  Here it is:

Until next time, stay safe everyone!

Hotflash out.