Saturday, June 12, 2010

Report From Ladder Company 40 Play time!

May 16-22, 2010    Days 238-243

Hi Team!!

Tuesday  2-11 (2 alarm) House fire  and the Medics let me play!

It was a crappy day out, pouring down rain.  I was between shifts with my daily split shift job when I heard the call come in for a signal 1-11.  The familiar feeling of adrenaline rushed over me and I jumped into action, grabbing the car keys, double checking that my gear was ready to go and grabbing my fire department ID off of my coat to clip to my viser.  It comes in handy when I arrive at fire scenes where the police are blocking off access.  Once I was set I "raced" within legal limits to get there.

What I arrived to:

Bob and Cat had already gotten the canteen set up so I joined them.  As I walked by the burning house (I was across the street) the smoke hurled my direction in a gust of wind and it choked me and made my eyes water.  Nasty, dangerous stuff that smoke is.  I walked quickly and got free of it but not before the smell of it permeated my clothes and hair.

After being directed to move the ice chest and cookies closer to the medic unit being used for firefighter rehab, Bob and I were invited to climb into their rig and out of the rain.  Bob declined but I, being an EMT student and curious, took advantage of the opportunity to check out the rescue rig.  One of the paramedics was inside getting things ready to check out the next crew due for rehab.  He was friendly and made conversation with me.  I told him I was an EMT student and he seemed genuinely interested, asking me several questions about what I had learned so far, where I went to school and how soon I would finish.  Then he told me I could stay and help if I wanted to. 

I looked at my watch.  DAMN!  (sometimes I HATE being a grown up!)  I had to leave in 10 minutes to go to work.  But I really didn't want to pass up this opportunity.  I decided to call my boss.  I usually start work at 2 but kids don't arrive until 2:30 so I could technically let my staff set up and show up just in time to receive kids and no harm would be done.  My boss was really kind about it.  She allowed me to stay.  It wasn't much time, but it was better than none!

The medics have to take the firefighter's blood pressure, carbon monoxide level, oxygen saturation level, and pulse.  I had hoped to help with blood pressure and pulse as Scott, the paramedic had mentioned.  Unfortunately, it was pretty crowded in there with three or four guys for rehab plus two paramedics and me.  And they were using an electronic device to measure the BP and pulse and I could not reach it from where I was.  And the most I did was assist with equipment.  They would put the cuff on one guy and while they took his vitals they passed around the gadget that measures the carbon monoxide levels as they blow into it.  This is a new device they are using and the comments being made were quite entertaining, but this is a relatively family friendly blog so I won't go into detail.  However, there was a lot of joking and a lot of having to do the test over becuase it is very hard to blow slowly into a device when one is laughing.  As one set of vitals was finished, the BP cuff would be passed to the next guy on the bench seat and the process would begin again.  The guy closest to me started to put the cuff on himself and was struggling so I offered to help.  I reached over and closed the velcro cuff around his arm for him in the same position that he had applied it but the paramedic looked at it and said, "that isn't right," and took it off and started over.  I felt about one inch tall.  I KNEW it wasn't right but I assumed that the firefighter knew what he was doing because I have been under the impression that all of our guys are EMT trained and who was I, a mere student, to question them about it.  Apparently not. Lesson learned.  I assisted for the remainder of the time I was there and did not make that mistake twice.

While it was very minor part to play, I still enjoyed it and learned from it.  The guys were great.  They treated me like one of them.  And even though their humor is often off color, (no big surprise there!) I felt privileged that they did not act differently because I was there.  They felt free to let of steam in their usual manner.  That is very important to me, working with the fire buff battalion, knowing that the firefighters can be totally free to be themselves and not have to be mindful that what they say may be offensive to us or upsetting.  This is a stressful job and they need to cope in any way that works for them.

I felt priveliged too, when Scott asked a paramedic from another unit about the occupants of the house.  He started to answer and then looked at me and said, "We have HIPPA."  (Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act -keeps everything about patients completely confidential except on a need to know basis, in a nutshell.)  Then  he looked at me and asked if I would mind stepping out for a moment.  Before I could answer Scott said, "It's okay, she's an EMT student.  She can stay."  And that was that.  They spoke freely and I got to be in on it!  COOL.

All too soon, my magical extra half hour was gone.  With a sigh I thanked Scott and the other firefighters who were around at the time and headed out and back to work. 

And when I had to leave for work it looked liket his:

The fire started in the kitchen, apparently.  There was a child inside as well as a teenaged care taker.  Both got out and took a ride to the hospital.  There were  various reports that gave conflicting information on the extent of injuries, ages of the occupants and such and I cannot say with one hundred percent certainty exactly what is true so I will not speculate here.

Here is what our fire department posted on their website about the incident:

The first arriving company found fire and smoke showing from the main floor of the two story turn of the century house. Crews battled the blaze with hand lines and initiated search and rescue tactics. A second alarm for additional resources was called as the intensity of the fire resulted in a collapsing roofof the primary structure and significant exposure damage to the adjacent house at 1732 S. Ainsworth.

A passing by off duty firefighter and neighbors assisted in getting all of the occupants out of both of the houses. Two of those occupants were transported to local area hospitals.

Sadly the house was lost.  The neighbor to the left had some roof damage and some serious water damage inside.  The Red Cross stepped in and assisted with temporary housing for both families. 

When I arrived back at work, it was stil pouring rain and I had to park at the far end of the parking lot so I kept my fire coat on because it is waterproof.  I ran into my class area with it on and the kids immediately zeroed in on me.  Who could blame them?  I stood out in that bright orange coat!  Usually when I address the class at this time of day, it is hard to get them quiet and get their attention.  This time was an exception.  All eyes were on me, expectantly and it was dead quiet.  They KNEW if I was wearing that coat it meant only one thing.  I got to the front of the class and the questions started flooding out of their mouths.  I told them what I had been up to and warned them that I smelled bad from the smoke.  Of course, as soon as they had the opportunity they were all up and around me sniffing! LOL  One of them later asked me, "Mrs. Myers, why are you so dirty?"  I laughed.  I told him I wasn't dirty I had just been walking through the smoke from the fire and it smelled bad.  He just assumed that if one was smelly one must be dirty.  I love my kids!


Okay, now, here's the thing...

Obviously, this post is WAY overdue.  And I haven't posted for a few weeks now.  I was so busy with school, and so stressed out that I kind of got to the point where I actually avoided this blog.  I can't believe I did that because this blog is very important to me and you, my readers, have been an amazing source of encouragement and support.  I am sorry if I let you down and I hope you will udnerstand and forgive me for it.  I let my self down too because, some day as I reach all of my goals, I will look back on this and realize I missed some important parts of the journey in my documentation.  But... life goes on.

I don't have my weekly "grades" to give you for this post or the next several.  All I can say is I have studied hard every week, I haven't drank near enough water and I am still not finding time to go out of my way to exercise but I am really looking forward to getting my life back when class is over so that I can do just that.

I guess I don't have much else to say for now.

Stay safe my friends!

Hotflash out.