I worried that something was wrong. I told myself that I better go check on my father because he had told me the day earlier that he wasn’t feeling well. I called my twin brother and told him that after my dentist appointment that I would go to see if he was alright.
Our Dad is a strong man, nothing ever seemed to bother him. He was a man of steel and would never show that there was something wrong. I had to think about this because he told me last week he wasn’t feeling well. That’s not like him. We get so caught up in our lives that we have to stop for a minute and think about our loved ones. I knew that I had to get over there as soon as possible to check on him.
I made the short drive over to his house, so worried about him. He was calling out and I missed it. I knocked on the door and there he was sitting where he alway’s sits. I said, Hey Dad, how is it going? Trying to make small talk. He replied and looked at me. NOT GOOD was his response. I about melted right there, not good. I started the third degree of questions, my medic mode also kicked in. So what has been going on? I fainted this morning in bed, I believe I did because when I started coming to, everything was white, I was very dizzy. I have been having tingling in my arms and general weakness.
Sometimes a son has to talk to the folks to make them understand they need to see a doctor. I felt at this point that this was very critical and he should go to the hospital. I was having worries of a possible heart problem or pending stroke. The test were performed and everything in his heart and brain scan was good. It was determined that he had been taking several meds and was having a reaction. The doctors took away three meds that he needed for another issue. He no longer has the dizzy spells but still some tingling in his hands and still somewhat weak.
Oh to have aging parents. I’m not sure if I worry more about them or my own children. The point made here is to make sure you check on your elder folks and when they tell you someone is not right to make sure you react. Stop, Look, and Listen is what they always told me. Now it is time to stop-look-and listen to what they are saying.
At peace with the mind. It is this, that most people wish could have. Solitude is what a person needs from time to time to rest the mind ,body, and soul. This picture reminds me of many times fishing in Maine. There is many mornings or evenings that are just like this. One can be fishing for trout or salmon in the day or white perch and hornpout in the evening. There is such a calm about being in the boat, canoe, or kayak floating about with mirrored lakes. There is times when every stress that has been bothering you will be washed away during one night on the lake. Really, you should try it sometimes. Enjoy the day- I’m going out fishing.
When the smoked cleared I stopped for a moment to realize what tragedy I had just witnessed. I stood there, sounds of the regulator, clicking in and out. It was just me and my thoughts. Had I done enough to prevent a loss for this family I had known. I battled the fire with such force and I gave it all my strength to the end. The smoke is all that remains, a tear forms in my eyes. How could I save the little girl in the room upstairs. I couldn’t go up the stairs because of fire from the top to the bottom. It would be the sure death of me if I made that decision. I had to make a split second decision of life and death, mine over hers.
We as responders are faced with decisions at times that no one ever wants to make. We are faced with the aftermath of those decisions. It at times feels like a general sending his soldiers into war knowing the outlook that many men will be sacrificed. Being an officer in a fire department can and will affect peoples lives. Your own men going to battle for the decisions you make.
I hope that I am never faced with the fact I sent men into battle with loss of my own men. I’m not sure I could live with this fact, instilled in my mind forever. This happen’s everyday with first responders. No one ever want’s to hear that someone has died trying to save someone. It is fact, that we are the last resort in many situations. We train for such emergencies, but in the end the tragedies we witness sometimes are forever etched. PTSD syndrome is very real and many people whether it be war, or being a first responder is affected in some way. How can we not be? We try to go home and console with our spouses but they do not understand what trauma we have been witness too. There is help out there. Your local departments should provide help, all you need to do is ask. We provide post CISD or Critical Insident Stress Debriefing, after a tragic event. It is this where we can all talk about what happened to start the process of healing the mind. http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo27917.PDF
The smoke is clear now and my heart is pounding. I have just talked with a professional about things I have been witness to. I know I have a reason to be a responder. Glad to know someone is out there to listen to us.
The dragon and I were in a battle during a structure fire the other day. Fighting fire is quite a challenge at times. Our department was toned out to a structure fire with a garage totally involved and a trailer starting on fire from extension. I jumped into my POV personal operating vehicle and drove to a neighboring town for a mutual aid call. The call came in during the day and was on a week day. Usually in these parts trying to find enough SCBA certified firefighters can be a real challenge.
I heard our own fire chief report that he was picking up the Engine to respond and I told dispatch that I was reporting to the scene. As I approached the scene I could see a large plume of black smoke. This garage was a working auto repair garage and many tires were outside between the garage and trailer. The residents in the trailer were out of the house and two people that were working in the garage sustained burns on their hands. I approached another firefighter that was laying water down in the garage section. There was only two guys and I at first and the one firefighter handed me the inch and three quarter hose so that he could hitch up with the other firefighter from his town to start an attack of the main house. So here I am, the back up man and the attack man on the garage which was totally engulfed at this time. Me and the dragon were in a fierce battle and I was hoping that more firefighters were going to respond soon. The water supply was in short order because only the two firetrucks at the time was the only water we had at first. The two firefighters were going to start an attack of the trailer when a call was made that the water supply was down. We had to wait until another tanker showed up or water supply set up.
I was looking at the fire from end to end of this garage and with the small hose I had it didn’t really seem to knock anything down. There was a car inside which was roaring and everything else inside was cooking. I sprayed water from end to end with the hope of keeping the flames down so that it would hold off from torching the trailer. I kept water on the oil tank from time to time and also removed a propane tank. I would jump from side to side, keeping water between the garage and house as best possible. Other firefighters started showing up and I handed the hose to two other firefighter from another town who responded mutual aid.
The structures were destroyed and multiple family members, like twelve were left homeless. The dragon slayer won the battle but not without I giving it my best shot at the beginning. It is so hard living in a rural community with dwindling numbers in the department. It really is hard during the day time when most people have regular jobs. I’m sure this is a problem all over the country. It also makes it hard to get water established since we are out of a hydrant district. Every fire in our community has to have a rural water supply or rural hitch setup for water at a fire. Sometimes five or six towns are called to have tankers coming. We do practice fill sites and dump site setup but it is still hard when you do not have enough first responders in the first place.
I just wish that more people would join their local fire departments. Some of us are getting older and we need some young guns to help out. Most of the brothers on my department have been on our department for 20 years or more. I am 53 years old and have been on for only twelve years, a young pup when it comes to service time. My days of being a structural interior firefighter are coming to an end soon. I hear of too many firefighters going silent and I do not want my spouse to get a call saying I expired from a heart attack fighting a fire. I do not want the dragon to claim another. Have a good day and feel free to respond in any way about your feelings on volunteer firefighters or departments and some of your stories. Good Day!