Fire

Encounter With Nemo

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Riding home from work and I see a flash of light beaming in the woods, shinning across the dash of my pickup truck. It really has shocked me to no end. What could this be? I slowed down the truck wheels, grinding to a stop. I really have to fix that right rear brake on this Ford. I’m not sure what to expect walking around the bend to investigate the glowing light in the woods. I am on a back road in Maine, where houses are far and few between. I  wonder if I  have made a big mistake stepping out of my truck at five-o’clock in the morning. I’ve decided to move forward, a little reluctant, scared? Maybe. As I start approaching the edge of the woods I can see a formation or metal looking structure that is on fire. I can feel the intense heat from quite a ways from the obstacle. There is a bunch of tree’s off to the right, I’m thinking that if I can get there I can get some cover from the heat and get a better view of the carnage. Upon my closer inspection, I can hear music of some sort coming from the vessel, or whatever it is. It sounds to me like jibbersh sounds, kind of galactic noises, nothing like any music we have ever heard on this planet. I want to get closer look to really find out what this thing is. I looked back to the road and no other cars have traveled it so I have no help. I’m feeling a little bit nervous, no really nervous to go out and investigate any further by myself. The crazy side of me has taking over so I grab my gonads and move forward. I was about twenty feet from the vessel what I hear a moaning sound. At first I thought it was the music I was hearing, this was not to be . I see movement on the right side,  this is not a human but some oddly looking creature with big green eyes. The arms and legs of this thing looks to be as long as a moose here in Maine. The arms and legs are flailing all over the place, I can tell it is in severe distress. Could it be that this vessel is a UFO? I am one not to believe in all this stuff, but right before my eyes is a true specimen to the fact it is not human. I walk closer, Hey! You. Can I help? Stupid me thinking this thing can talk our language. Hey You! Again no answer. I  am now at the feet of this creature, I am in awe of the size of its feet. The feet must be the size of a piglet, real round and fat. Moaning still coming from the creature. I get down real close as to get a better look at the face. I am about a foot from the face when it lets a howl, I fall back, landing on some pine bowels. I get back onto my feet and grab one of the arms to help this creature sit up. I pull with all my might when it is sitting there looking me in the eyes. It has me in a spell, a trance,  bright big green eyes are pulling into my mind, I feel myself becoming one of them. I can now also hear a voice. The  language is getting clearer now. The creature is talking English and is speaking directly to me. My name is NEMO and what is yours? I’m Rick from Livermore, you have crashed into a cornfield, Are you Alright? Yes, Nemo answers back. I ask a simple question, How did you get here? He starts telling me that his planet was destroyed by a meteor and the only reason he survived was because he was out on a training mission . He told me how his planet was on a mission to wipe out a planet called Earth and that he was going to be the lead attacker. Nemo told me that his GPSR unit had failed and he was not sure where earth was. He also couldn’t fly the ship because the navigation is all controlled by the GPSR unit and no override to control. I walked closer to the ship and was about to peek inside when I felt a sharp laser on my right shoulder, taking me to the ground, my arm was completely severed, I was fading away. Nemo took one more shot with the laser, I was gone. I can hear voices calling again, Nemo? What are you talking about Richard? You must be in a dream, it is time to wake up and bring me to work. Have a great day everyone, always good to be a dreamer.

Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

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A Public Message

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I can hear the alarm ringing, I’m having a hard time coming out of this dream. I’m trying to reach with my arms, stretching it out like the toy Stretch Armstrong, hitting the button for the second time. Something is wrong with me this morning, I cannot wake myself up. Someone has done something to me, I do not feel well and my vision is all blurred. I’m starting to panic inside my mind. There is a pungent odor inside this bedroom of mine. I can still hear the alarm sound but cannot get to it. There is a glow of light, ever so flickering, within the walls of this room. I can feel the heat upon my face, too much for me to handle, I tuck myself under the covers. I am awakened again by the sounds of sirens, I wonder what has happened, I go back to sleep. The door is crashing down inside the room, two men in suits are hollering something, I cannot hear them. The alarm is still going off, I feel dizzy, I cannot see, I cannot breath.

Please be aware of your surrounding’s. Do not leave candle’s burning at night. Make sure the smoke detectors all work and the batteries have been changed. Have an escape route and a meeting place outside, And NEVER GO BACK INTO A BURNING BUILDING.

A story here in Maine. A young mother and three of her children perish in a fire. A smoke detector was found with the battery removed. We all have to have an alarm system. I also recommend using a Carbon Monoxide detector on each floor. It never hurts to be a little on the ball with this stuff. Carbon Monoxide is the silent killer. No odor and the vapor density is about the same as the air we breath. In other words it floats around just like air. This deadly gas is formed from improper burning. Stay Safe folks and be smart when it comes to your family and heating resources.

Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

Snow Up The Ying Yang

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I was watching the news channel this morning and the reports of all that lake effect snow that has accumulated in upper state New York is the big story. I was amazed at the fact this isn’t even winter yet. People have been literally stopped in their tracks. Major freeway’s with tractor trailer trucks stranded in the middle of a super highway. People opening doors to their houses and nothing but snow completely covering the opening. There is one major factor the news is not reporting. People are stuck in their beds and making love because they cannot do anything else. I really wonder if the population is going to climb from this one single event. Another serious issue is that dogs are peeing and pooping inside the residents houses. I saw one dog trying to go poop in the snow bank, poor thing didn’t know he was pooping on the cat that was below him. It really is terrible all the snow that the Buffalo Region is getting. I wonder where the name Buffalo came from. There must of been herds of Buffalo’s there at one time is all I can figure.

A real serious issue I’m hearing is the fact that snowplow drivers cannot even get out of the barn. Really with a ten foot wall of snow in front of the blades it is impossible to even get out of the gate per say. The ladies of Isabella are not having their Fall walk of the streets this time. They have decided to cancel this event. I can hear sirens going off from over at the Buffalo Fire Department but no one is going anywhere. I see all the firefighters with their turn-out gear on standing looking in awe, mouth’s dropping from what they are seeing. Clyde’s barber shop is closed today too. All the local boys like to hang out there and have coffee. No coffee for the boys today because there is no power.

People really become close in events like this. I saw the whole Balsalmo Family gathered this morning around lodge at Spruce Mountain, Ole Victor is getting out his skis now. I think even Victor is wondering if he is going to be able to hit the slopes with this much snow. Needless to say they can all go into the lodge for the 25 cent hot chocolate and talk about family matters.

I really cannot fathom the amounts of snow that New York has received because I’m looking out my window at only a dusting, I do however feel for them and hope that all that snow is removed in due time.  I have full faith in the Buffalo Public Works department that all this snow will be removed before the weekend. Enjoy your day, I have to go out and find my dog and cat.

Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

When The Smoke Cleared

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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.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

 

Dragon vs Firefighter

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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!

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014  The picture featured is from Sun Journal in Maine.

Standing On The Edge Of Life

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I wanted to be a police officer but ended up a firefighter. I am on a volunteer department and only get paid when on a call. The money is not important because I only get about 400 dollars a year. Why would anyone decided to get involved in something that could end your life very quickly anyways? I can only respond to this question as it pertains to myself, others will have different opinions for sure.

First of all, there is no other adrenaline rush like when your pager goes off and you never know what the nature of the call on the other end is going to be. Really think about this for a moment. You are sitting, watching television, and the tone goes off. You rush to the garage and gather your turnout gear and try to get it on quickly. Someone needs your help and needs it now. Firefighters! A plane has just crashed into the lake with possible survivors. Or a call comes out with a house is on fire and people are trapped on the second floor. How about a victim is trapped in motor vehicle. So you never know what to expect but to always expect for the unexpected. It is kind of like fishing. You never know what the next one is going to be.

I have often thought about why I chose to be in public service in the first place. What was the trigger. I remember as a young man in in primary school when the kids and I were playing red rover red rover. Two teams with all the kids holding hands. The object of the game is to crash through their line of interlocking hands. If you get through the line someone is eliminated. This one particular day a kid ran over as fast as he could and got clobbered in the face. His face started to bleed and all the kids just stood there. I ran over to this kid and helped him get to his feet and brought him to the teacher. Was this the trigger? I am kind of thinking that it could be the first. Helping someone in need and not just sitting there watching.

I remember when my wife and I was traveling years ago when the car in front of us hit a pedestrian and the victim went flying through the air. I immediately stopped our vehicle and tried to administer help. The victim died but I was right there on his last agonal  breaths. I decided at this point that I wanted to learn first aid. I took an EMT-B class just to have more knowledge of first aid and maybe I could help someone or my family if needed. I passed the class and proceeded to work on an ambulance for a few years. It became hard for me raising a family and working in a paper industry, doing shift work. I raised my family, one year our son decided to become a firefighter and wanted to know if I would do it with him. I decided to take the class for firefighter- one and passed the class. I started working on the local fire department and I was back into the emergency field. Again money was never the reason it was the fact that I could help someone out if needed.

The years are moving and there will come a time when I will have to pass the towel in, but I have been so happy doing what I always wanted to do even though it was on a volunteer basis. I know it takes certain types of people to do this kind of business. I wonder if we were chosen for this type of business by what we saw as young children. I’m sure there is a connection. Good Day Everyone.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

 

Merchant Ship Isabella

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I was on the merchant ship Isabella and the cargo was a dangerous load of bombs destined for the war in Europe. The day started out in the Portland,Maine dockside loading all day with the stevedore’s, the dock workers who load the ship. It was a warm day with the wind blowing slightly from the north. My coworker and I had the day to explore so we took off into the city of Portland. We walked down Congress Street and was noticing that all the streets were cobblestone. I had never seen streets like this anywhere in the States. The boys and I decided to get a bite to eat and have some mugs of beer. We was talking with this one man inside the bar and asked where he came from. My name is George Thurman, I was a sea captain years ago and I’m retired from working. I spent my entire life working at sea and now I am enjoying staying grounded. How about you boy’s? He replied. I told him that I started a year ago working on the Isabella and I was nineteen years old. We told the old sea captain we had to leave and said our goodbye. Til we meet again boys, bon voyage, and tipped his beer at us.untitled

We loaded ourselves onto the ship and within twenty minutes we were off. It was a sunny day and my buddy and I were on the deck taking in all the scenery around the Portland waterfront. The Isabella was off and we sailed all through the night. The swells were starting to get bigger and the ship was rocking back and fourth. I decided to go check the cargo hold where the bombs were being stored. They were loaded in the front of the ship and stacked like cord wood. I was starting to hear some clanking, like metal to metal, but really couldn’t see anything loose. I went back up topside and reported this to the captain. The captain told me to make regular checks and to keep reporting back to the bridge of the findings.

The sea was getting worse by the moment and now the ship was rolling and moving up and down. My buddy Ricardo and I decided to take another check of the cargo hold. What we found was very concerning. The bombs that were stacked like wood had now tumbled and were all loose. The bombs were being tossed around every time the ship rolled. They would clank against the ships hull. We ran up topside to tell the ships captain when we felt and heard an explosion. I looked up and the whole front of the ship was flying through the air. The bombs had detonated and I was thrown backward and hit my head on the edge of a railing but was still conscious. Ricardo was knocked into the water, I awoke in my daze to realize that I had to try and save Ricardo. MAN OVERBOARD! I hollered this three times and no one came to help. I took a life preserver and tossed it overboard to try and help Ricardo but he was long gone.

The ship stopped moving and I could see the front of the ship starting to go nose down. We were sinking real fast and I had to find something that would float. There was some foam sheets along edge of the railings that I could use. I ripped them off the railing and prepared myself to go overboard in a last attempt to save myself. I couldn’t see if anyone else was trying to get off the ship. I looked up at the bridge and I could see the Captain calling on the radio. I’m sure the communication lieutenant was tapping out Morse Code, SOS-SOS-SOS. Save Our Ship was being repeated. The ship was now listing to port and I could tell that this ship was going down real fast. I had my foam sheet and was prepared to jump into the sea. The captain came out of the bridge and hollered. Abandon Ship! That is all I needed to jump into the cold and salty waters. One-two-three and I jumped.

The coldness of the water took my breath away at first and the salt in my eyes made it hard for me to see anything. I was able to see others jumping off the ship but I had no energy to swim over to help them out. I laid on my sheet of foam and floated away from this area. I took one last look when the ship finally made its last plunge to the depths of the ocean. I floated for hours and with the day being sunny I was able to warm my body. I looked out over the ocean and could not see land anywhere. I had no water or food and I was starting to worry that I would die on this floating device.. I dozed off to the sounds of seagulls.

I woke up and looked out to the horizon and could see land. I was coming up to a beach of some sort and I could see people laying on the sand. I was wondering if maybe they were survivors of another ship wreak. I could see men and woman and children playing in the water. I could see many woman in bikini’s, with their bodies all tanned up from basking in the sun. I could see a Ferris wheel  and could hear music playing in the distance. What is this place I had floated too? Some kind of Utopia, and Circus? I came to rest on the shore, this one young lad comes up to me and kicks sand in my face. Hey Mister? What kind of stupid surfboard is that? I opened my eyes to see this little brat smirking at me. I raised myself and starting looking for other shipmates. I cannot see anyone. I see this very attractive lady in the distance. I walk up to her and ask her where is this place? Her reply is Portland Head Light, Maine.  I had left from Portland, Maine. untitled

I thought about what had happened. The bombs were stacked like wood and with the rolling of the ship there was friction on the surface of the bombs. It only took a jolt up and down and this is what discharged the bombs. There was no other survivors- I wondered now if I was even on a ship or if I was dreaming.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

 

Within The Forest Of Fire

plane%20crash%20kansas_1382128078871_3629612_ver1_0_640_480I was awakened by the sound of a loud crash. I looked outside and couldn’t see anything because of the darkness. There was a rumble that shook the whole house and I was freaking out. I put my clothes on in a hurry and made quick time downstairs to see if the house was damaged or a wall had come down. There was nothing to witness within the house, out of the corner window I saw a glow in the woods.

It was very cold out so I grabbed my jacket and hat and some gloves. I went to the cupboard and retrieved the flashlight. When I stepped outside the door I could hear a roaring sound with loud pops every minute or so. I walked closer to the glow and I could now smell something burning. I came to an opening in the woods, before my eyes, and strewn all over the place was burning debris for as far as I could see. The tops of the tree’s were on fire and fire throughout the forest for about five-hundred feet in width.

My mind was reeling and still I could not process what could cause such devastation. I started walking around the perimeter and I saw a suitcase, a doll lying on the ground covered in soot. I now understood what this devastation was. It was a jetliner that had crashed. I got on my cell phone and called 911. Here is the call. Hello dispatcher. I am in the woods and I believe a jetliner has crashed into my backyard. Sir, don’t play games with us. We are an emergency dispatch center and it is a crime to make false accusation’s about something of this nature. I am not fooling around miss, there is flames for as far as I can see. You need to send someone out here in a hurry. There might be people lying in the woods still alive. I’m going to walk around and see if I can find any souls. Sir? You are serious about this? Yes, I’m not kidding, send the fire department out right now. Ok, Sir, I will be dispatching the fire and rescue they will be there soon.

It must of been five or ten minutes and it seemed like the whole state had responded to this scene. I ran back to my house to check on my wife and two children. They were standing in the kitchen and understandably shaken by what they were seeing within the woods. Honey, a jetliner has crashed in the woods. My wife looks at me with a worry on her face. Honey? Is there any survivor’s? I do not know that answer dear but I’m sure the fire department will let us know soon.

We waited in the house for it seemed like eight hours and this one fire chief came into the house and told us that one soul had been found and is in critical condition. The person found was a young lady of around twenty-four years of age. Her passport stated she was from Istanbul and she was coming to America to become a chef in a famous New York restaurant .  I asked what hospital they were taking her too. Sir, they will be taking her to Presbyterian Hospital by the Bay. Ok, Thanks chief I appreciate this information.

I walked back out into the woods later when daylight came and was amazed at how much debris was strewn all over the woods. I could see a section of the wing and also the wheels from the jet. There was some things still burning but most of the fires were out. The firefighters had been there all night and were exhausted. The count of souls they found were to be two-hundrend and twenty-five. I started to cry and only had visions of how many families had lost their fathers, mothers, children,brother’s and sister’s. This was going to take me a long time to process and I hugged my family today. We all cried.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

Crying In The Woods

Avalanche_Rescue_Dog_Looking_A_6552172I am part of an elite special search and rescue team out of Ashvielle, Texas. Our major concentration and training has been in Search and Rescue. I am special- qualified in low angel rescue and searching with dogs. Our team was called out to the the State of Maine because a woman had gone missing on the Appalachian Trail a week ago. I had my dog Bert with me and another person on my team was going with a search dog too. I had all my gear in my back pack and flashlights for hiking at night if needed. This woman was hiking alone on the AT when she failed to contact her husband Tony two days before. Her husband new that something wasn’t right and called the authorities.

The day started out with all our team meeting at the local fire station in Apton with our team leader Dean giving us a pre-op and giving us coordinates to search for the day. I looked over the map of the terrain that Bert and I would be canvassing and notice the elevation to be around 3200 feet. I had hiking boots with spikes in the bottom which gave me better traction. One of the firefighters gave me a ride closer to the area I would be searching.

I found out that this lady had an enormous amount of hiking experience and that she was well prepared for hiking in the mountains. I’m sure she just went off trail and got lost and that we would find her in no time. Usually our team found most people that we went looking for and I felt like this was going to be the same. I had been all day searching and calling out her name. Julia! Julia! I hollered for her all day and never heard any response back. I called back to my team leader Dean to tell him I had not found any indication of anyone hiking this area. I could find no foot prints and also looked for turned over rocks, or broken whips on the tree’s. The hike was starting to wear me down so I decided to stop and get some water. There was a big rock and the sun was shinning on it brightly which I felt would give me some warmth. Bert sat down next to me and I brought out some water for the both of us. I was looking at my map and making decisions to change course when I thought I heard someone crying from within the wood line about 100 meters ahead. Sometimes when your looking for someone so bad your mind does strange things and I just thought it was my mind thinking I’d heard a voice within the woods. Again, I could hear someone crying. This time Bert’s ears popped up so I knew that I wasn’t just imagining this sound.images

Bert and I  moved toward the ridge line and into the woods. The crying sound was getting stronger and I know could hear this person calling out, Help! Help!  We were about to cross over this stream and down next to the stream and near a large felled tree I saw a woman. I called out, Are You Julia? Yes, Please help me. I got on my two-way radio and called team leader Dean to give him information of my coordinates and that she had been found. Julia was so happy to see me. Here is a link of a true story that happened in Maine. This woman was never found.  http://appalachiantrail.com/20131214/search-missing-appalachian-trail-hiker-gerry-largay/

I accessed her condition and found that she had two broken legs from a fall she had taking. She had dragged her injured body at least one mile through the woods. She understood that she needed to get to a stream if she was going to be found. Both her hands were cut up as well. I took out my bandages and wrapped them around her hands. I had soft splints in my gear bag and splinted both legs the best I could. The crying from Julia had stopped. She had no more tears to let out. She was very dehydrated. The rest of my search team embarked upon the scene and we were able to carry her back to the fire station to an awaiting ambulance. Her husband was relieved that his Julia had been found.Cave_Rescue_training_12_4in

In the weeks afterward our team was called out to another search and rescue. The Arizona mountains, where a team of sky jumpers could not be located. Bert and I were ready for anything- – – – – – – – – – – –   ©Bilodeau,D.H.