firefighter

Highway 95-Gobble Gobble

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I was traveling from Virginia to Central Maine to spend some time with my folks during Thanksgiving. It was raining real hard so driving was becoming very difficult. I was not getting any help on the driving front because my spouse was sleeping. The sky was becoming very dark and I was getting a feeling that things were going to turn sour real fast.

It was the smell of the Turkey, time spent with my siblings that I was thinking about. I really do believe this is the best holiday of any of them. Family getting together and having a great dinner. The folks will be so happy to have their children and grand child for Thanksgiving. The smiles on their faces, the drinks, and football. I heard a screech and the car in front of me is going sideways, fishtailing, roads are getting slippery now.

The road were getting horrendous and I was slowing the vehicle down to keep safe. We were moving into Southern, Maine over the Portsmouth Bridge when the snow was coming down so hard on Highway 95. The traffic was still moving at a clip when off to the side I noticed a speed limit sign. Wow, when did they move the speed limit up to 75 mph? I asked my wife. Can you believe that, people are going to kill themselves going that fast. I nodded and agreed with her. Still moving North and traveling very fast the car in front of me started slipping and crossed the centerline. The vehicle crashed into a semi, blowing the car into pieces, debris flying through the air.

The debris kept flying and smashed my windshield and something hit me hard. The lights went out. I woke up with dust flying through the air. It was the dust from the airbag. I instantly thought of my wife, how she was doing. I look over and only see her starring into nowhere. Her eyes not blinking. The debris had gone through the window striking her in the chest area. I had lost my love, the only one who understood me, my hugger. What was I going to tell my family, it was going to tear me apart.

The ambulance and fire personal came to our assistance. They dragged her out of the car, looking with a sad face, I knew there was nothing they could do. I was brought to a police car to be questioned and checked to see If I had been drinking. No officer, I told you I haven’t had a drink. The officer responds with me having to walk the line to check for sobriety. I think you need to settle down Mr. or I’m going to take you to jail. I guess I didn’t settle down and I was looking between bars in a jail. Where had everything gone wrong? I was alone, no family and in Jail.

I can tell you people and insist that you do not drink and drive this holiday and make other arrangements if the snow make traveling to bad. No person in this world would want to see anything happen to you, Turkey or not. Enjoy the holiday folks, be smart, don’t drink and drive.

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.

Last Moment With You

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I was driving down an old country road in Aroostook County, Maine. It was a long days work and the travel home was going to take me two hours. It was starting to sprinkle out so the visibility was starting to get worse. I was kind of day dreaming when I looked off to the side of the road and saw rear lights from a car. The car was burrowed into the woods and upside down. My heart started racing, it was going to get much worse.

I stepped out of my vehicle and ran toward the car. It was very dark outside and I remembered I had a flashlight stashed into the side of the door. I turned around real quick to retrieve it when I heard a loud scream. It sounded like a young girl crying. I grabbed the flashlight and went over to the car. Inside was a young women with blood all over her face and by looking at the position she was in that she was jammed inside and just under the dashboard.

I told the young lady, or Corinth later I found out, that she was going to be ok and help was on the way. I looked down toward her legs and noticed that she had broken both legs. I could tell they were broken by the disfigurement in her legs. She was screaming for me to help her. I was almost losing it myself but knew I had to help her. I told her I had to run to my car so I could call for more help. I squeezed her hand, she responded back with a tight grip.

Talking with the dispatcher was killing me because I wanted to get right back to Corinth. I still could hear her screaming from a distance. I told the dispatcher I had to get right back to her after I told her of what injuries she had. I made my way back to the wreaked car, tripping on a piece of debris before I got there and slightly spraining my ankle.

Corinth told me she was eighteen years old and a cheerleader and in her senior year of high school. She looked at me in the eye and said, Sir? Am I going to die? My heart about melted at that point. I had no way of knowing the outcome but she had some serious injuries with loss of blood. I told her she was going to be alright. I started to hear the sirens in the distance, help was soon to be here.

The firefighters had to use the jaws of life to extricate her from the vehicle. I could see the color going out of her face, a very parlor look. They had her out of the car and onto a stretcher. I went up to Corinth and squeezed her hand one more time. She responded with a tight squeeze.

I will never forget this moment. I found out later Corinth died in the hospital from multiple trauma. I’m glad someone was there in her last moments, glad it could be me.

From this experience I quit my job and started taking classes to become a paramedic. I know I can help someone else again, Cant I?

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014  Fictional Story, but could be true to so many responders like myself. Lieutenant D. Bilodeau, Livermore Fire Dept

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

 

My Firefighter-Medic Life

imagesI read an interesting story about a firefighter who was teased about what he does for work. There was an family get together and this one well to do guy comes up to the firefighter and makes a statement. So how is the checkers games going? The firefighter looks at this guy and was about ready to smash him in the face for this rude comment. The firefighter finally gives him a one-two punch.

I drive down every highway around here with ghost haunting me. I remember this couple that was in an accident where the girl is dead and the boyfriend is pinned in the car. The man keeps asking if his girlfriend is alright. The firefighter/medic responds with. she is being taking care of. The girl is dead and he has to lie to the fellow. I personally have been put in this situation. Is anyone really prepared to be of witness to such horrific incidents without some long term affects. I would need another call to reset my memory from the last horrific incident.

I am not alone in this personal affects of the brain. It is compared to PTSD, many firefighters/medic’s are afflicted with this. Still to this day I remember the accident’s like it happened yesterday. There is crosses in the road which are reminders of the incidents that I witnessed. It is somewhat of a trigger every time I see these on the highways.

Back to the man at the gathering. So the firefighter responds with another one. I was at an accident where the mans head was severed from a flying object off a pulp truck. He was not just a object that got struck. He was a man with a wife and four young children.  The firefighter responds to the yuppie, So, my checkers game is good. It is the only thing that takes my mind off the horrific incidents I see on my job. I don’t just sit around” asshole” playing checkers all the time. I don’t sit behind a desk with smooth hands and wearing a three piece suit. The next time you see a firefighter remember what they have been through. There is moments on the job that we sit around for the next call but the next call might be your love one that needs our help.

Something to ponder about. I have been witness to a lot in my years of public service. This is what I do and very proud to help people in dire need. I am a firefighter on a on-call department. I was an EMT years ago and have worked on the job site as a firefighter-medic-hazmat tech for 25 years in local paper mills. I have witness many things in my life. So the next time you see a paramedic or firefighter please tell them you support everything they do. Good Day Everyone.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

Mechanism’s of Life

CPRDispatch, Code 99 in progress please respond to 1112 Park Street. This was a call for help and I was the man on duty. I was eating breakfast with my wife and kids when the call came out. I jumped up quick from the table and spilled my coffee. The wife looked at me and couldn’t believe that I would not stop for a minute to clean up the coffee.. Hey, I have to get going in a hurry, someone’s life is on the line.

In the heat of the moment the only thing you can think of is responding and trying to beat the clock of time for this patient. I jumped into my truck and reached in my pocket for the keys and realized that I didn’t have them, they were in my street clothes. Argh!  Back into the house to my wife saying what is the matter? I forgot my keys honey. I rushed up the stairs and retrieved my keys and hurried on back to my truck. I turned on my red light and off I go to try and mitigate, or stop the progression of dying. I’m thinking in my head, ok open the airway, check for signs of circulation, if none start compressions and breathing. I had trained for this so many times and when it is real life you still go back to the basic’s. ABC-Airway-Breathing-Circulation.

The patient was lying prone in the living room and some family members were trying their best to hold their emotions and still try to perform CPR-CardiopulmonaryResuscitation . It is a very hyped up scene when responding to a code 99. We  hope that we can respond in time for the patient. The brain will die in about 6 minutes max,  lactic acid will start destroying the vital organs in a short time thereafter. Because the family was at the home and were instructed from the dispatcher to stay calm and start performing CPR this patient had a chance. Blood flow to the brain and body was continuing.

The medic with me hooked up the twelve- lead monitor and determined this patient needed to be shocked back to life. Clear! Everyone cleared the patient and Six-Hundred Joules were induced across the heart of this patient. We checked the monitor and a good sinus rhythm was now shown on the screen. The paramedic put some drugs into the veins of this patient and everything was looking good. We had stopped the line of progression of life or death.

The family was instructed to meet at the local hospital and that the patient was stable at the moment but not out of the woods. Because of the lactic acid the patient could have liver, or kidney failure, it could be a long-haul in the hospital.

We as responders will try to do everything possible to change the outcome for a patient. Our own family members sometimes never turn on the switch. It really is a switch from going from family function’s to rescue mode. Sometimes we feel like Jekyll and Hyde. No not really, but to switch modes on a dime is the comparison. Honey, I will clean up the coffee, Just give me a minute, Ok?

I do not work for an ambulance. I did at one time back in the 80’s. I do medical work at my workplace and respond via local fire department when called upon. ©Bilodeau,D.H.2014

Falling Asleep At The Wheel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can remember things now. I was driving down from Lake Tahoe to Sun City Arizona the summer of 1981 to go for a job interview when it all happened. It had been a long drive and I should have slept more before taking off. I had a six pack of Red Bull to keep me awake for the long drive and was going to stay at the Hyatt Hotel when I arrived with the interview being the next morning. I was probably sixty miles out from Sun City when I caught myself getting real sleepy. My head nodded but I caught myself and grabbed a Red Bull to keep me awake. I was still driving and about an hour into the ride after the last episode of falling asleep it happened. Unknown to myself at the time but I feel asleep again and the car and I drove off into la la land. The car traveled into the other lane and we went head-on in a pickup truck driven by a young man and his child.

I was in a induced coma for a week because of the swelling in my brain. I woke up with the worst headache one could imagine. Every bone in my body was sore from the trauma I had sustained. The nurse who was taking care of me was in the room when I woke up. Hey Mr. Henry? About time you woke up. Everything was a little blurry at the moment I opened my eyes but standing in front of me was this nurse. Glad to see you are finally awake. How long have I been out? The nurse replied, one week.  You have been in a coma induced by the doctors here to let your brain heal up a bit. There was swelling on your brain from the impact of your accident. What accident I asked? You fell asleep while driving and collided with a pickup truck. The other driver you hit and his son didn’t survive. I couldn’t believe the words she had just told me. My heart skipped a beat and it was surreal at the time.

I was discharged from the hospital and my brother and his wife picked me up. The nurse wheeled me out of the hospital and placed me into my brothers car. One the way back home I started to remember bits and pieces of the accident. I remember someone holding my hand through the ordeal. I remember someone holding my head to stabilize it incase I fractured my neck. One guy with sunglasses on kept calling my name, Sir Sir , your going to be alright. I can remember now the helicopter ride to the hospital, the rotors making their noise with blades cutting the air. I now remember being wheeled down the hallway of the hospital with people watching from the edges of the hallway as we were passing by.

The conclusion of this story, or the point of it all, is that when you feel your getting tired when driving make sure you pull over and take a short nap. The other thing is to make sure you get some fresh air and drink a coffee or something before venturing out again on the highway. This story could have been written about anyone and we all have friends or even been there before. Drive safe everyone-Also put down the cell phones- No call is worth dying for.

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

Another Hammer Comes Down

2014-03-20 04.19.51Some how it just doesn’t feel like spring here. I woke up early this morning with visions of flowers blooming and birds chirping. I was soon alerted to a major snow storm and an early call out for the our fire department. There was supposed to be a tree on the line somewhere. Dispatch called us but just seeing the numbers on mailboxes to find the location was almost impossible. The first hurtle I had was going out and cleaning the truck. There was anywhere from 12-15 inches or more snow on the truck and trying to respond to a fire call was not going to be quick response this morning. The snow was coming down in buckets and visibility was intense around here. The local weather reports as of last night was only supposed to be 3-5 inches of snow. Someone missed the boat on this one.

Here in New England we are prepared for anything, but it really did kill my visions of spring in a hurry. I’m going to wait for daylight to do some cleanup around here but in the meantime I’m going to cuss at the local weather man for fibbing a little on this one. Someone in this country is enjoying the benefits of spring I’m sure.  The picture above is my deck this morning at 0400 hrs.

©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.

New Invention- Keeping America Cool

SchwartzCap_backNew snow here in Central Maine. We have so much snow that I joined a group of local’s who have come up with an idea to start shipping snowballs to California. The Governor of that State called for assistance in keeping people cool. This group or one smart guy, came up with an awesome invention. We will distribute this item along with a pack of ten snowballs. It is similar to a stocking hat where you place the snowball within. The user will take the long tail of the hat and stuff it down the back of their shirt.

Studies have been concluded, and it has proved to drop the body temperature by 6 degree’s. The governor has ordered Five Hundred Thousand to start. We have had to hire the locals from the next town over for assistance. So far business is booming and with the amount of snow we have been collecting from this new named storm, we can continue our business at least into August.

You can find this product in most of the online stores and pricing is dependent on the consistency of the snowballs. With this storm there is more water content and because of the viscosity we have to charge more for this product. We will be rolling this product out to public shortly. It will be going public on the New York Stock Exchange within a month. California is our testing ground and so far of what we have heard there is a lot of happy people. The Fire Service is now talking with our Chief CEO right now and we hope to land an order with the Wildland Fire Service. We are applying for a grant from the Fire Act Program to buy more stocking hats. Stay tuned folks.

Our Catch Phrase is- Keeping America Chilled, One Hat At A Time.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

The French In Me

imagesDXK6SCLYI have often wondered what part of me is the Frenchman. I know a few swear words in French and also a few things around the dinner table. I am full blooded French on both sides of the family. Don’t get me wrong I am French, I know it. I have been carrying a radio for my work places for almost thirty years and wondered how everyone communicated back in the day. The papermaker’s from my community were from French and Italian descent. I remember when I first stated working in the paper mills as a papermaker, that I remember the old timer’s using a lot of hand signal’s. I will give you a vision of a paper machine. It is about the length of a football field or longer and usually around 300 inches wide or more. It is a long way to try and talk to someone on the other end of the machine. I remember if a person wanted to tell someone he was going to bathroom, and to cover his job for a minute, he would raise one arm in the air and move it up and down. The reason this was developed was because in the bathroom above your head you would tug down on a rope and all the waste would flush down a pipe.

Another example was if you wanted the deckle on the machine to shift to the front of back. This is where the whole sheet of paper you are making shift an inch or so to the front or back of the machine. So one guy on the far end would get another coworker’s attention by waving his arms. He would take one hand and point to the right or left. It was called pissing in or pissing out and everyone understood this logic.

I still can catch people in the community using these signals. I saw a guy one day, with his middle finger up in the air. He was pumping his arm up and down then moved it to the right. Ok you want me to piss in a little there? These younger people, they need to make their signals a little more clearer. I once saw a lady in Walmart pumping her arms up and down to her husband in the back of the store. She was trying to tell her husband she had to take a chilopa, or go to the bathroom. He thought she was going to check out. This communication is losing strength around here.

I still however use hand signs and talk with my hands. It must be the French in me. I can count to ten maybe in French. I’m glad my Fire Chief speaks fluent French because we have a lot of Canadian’s that travel here in this part of the country. I been to many accidents that he was the only one that could talk to them. I tried once and only ended up swearing at them. I will keep my mouth shut next time. The lost art of hand signs from the paper industry is going away. Everyone is using radio’s to talk and no one is face to face in communicating anymore. Like SI said from Duck Dynasty, you don’t even smell them anymore. I’m pumping my arm up and down right now, got to go.

Of Medical Attention- Please!

imagesWho is there for me? I sometimes wonder if something happened to me that a responder would be near enough to help. Living in a rural community, the rescue service tries their best, but at times they could be quite far away. I hurt myself last summer and I was trying to make a decision to call for an ambulance or drive myself. It is hard making decisions in the moment. I sliced my hand, no it was not life threatening, so I decided to drive the truck to a local doctor. Still not a good decision but I made out reasonably good. I was stitched up and off I went.

I am a first responder at my workplace. We usually have three or four  guys that I work with responding to medical calls. It all depends usually how many of us are there. Someone might be on vacation, or taking a paid sick day. I sometimes wonder if something happened to me in the mill would there be someone to help me, like I have helped others. It is hard to get people to sign up for this extra duty when they are already doing their normal positions within the facility, including myself. I work as a electrician normally, but still respond to fire, hazmat, and medical calls. I  put myself into this position because I did this for 20 years at another industrial facility. I was not going to throw away a chance to save someones life if needed. I really do enjoy doing this stuff. But who is there for me?

Are people not signing up as responders for a reason? I wonder if they are scared of what they will see. Yes, I have been witness to some horrible stuff, but I look at this as part of my job. I would want the next person to help anyone in dire need. Bystander’s are always around when we have incidents, but are usually just standing there. I know these people would help out in any situations of an emergency. But still they hold back from signing up as responders.

The fact that I’m sitting here all alone right now and thinking about what if something happened to me right now? I  think that every human should have one of those life alerts available to them. I’m not just talking a cell phone. You might not be able to speak. I am going to ask the government for a grant so that all Mainers can use this service for free. I will call this service the Healthcare  Act 2014. Calling ALL MAINERS- YOU CANT GET THERE FROM HERE if you don’t have your new government issued life alert device.

On a serious note: Really, have you ever set out a plan as to what you would do in an emergency of medical attention? It is hard to put a band aid on your finger with one hand when the other is bleeding. DARN-IT I just spilled hot coffee on my foot. Oh the pain, so what do I do now? Goo on Boo or not? The answer is somewhere in a book, or on the computer, but now the foot is starting to bubble up and the pain is serious. Now you cannot walk to call for help, your starting to feel a little dizzy. I have the answer! Hit the Life Alert Button on your new Government issued button.

I will always try my best at being a medical responder and I would hope that some day if you ever thought about doing this stuff to please reconsider it. A life is worth saving. Enjoy the day folks, I’m styling in my new Government Issued Alert Button.©2014 Bilodeau,D.H.

Clandestine Labs Found In Maine

imagesA recent arrest in Oxford County Maine is an eye opener for some. It really doesn’t surprise me that living in such a rural area that these labs are not everywhere. The process of making the drug meth can be made with simple household products and the profits are probably very good. The process of making this drug is very dangerous, volatile, and explosive. Anytime you heat chemicals to extract something you are putting yourself and anyone nearby at an extreme risk. Eight people were arrested in the region. This was a network that the DEA had been aware of. Someone had to make them aware of this operation. Observant people noticing that something wasn’t right. I guess when you look at it products being purchased in larger quantities than normal should be a red light. Products like cold meds, camping fuel, coleman white gas, larger amounts of stuff than normal should be a red light to some.

The local paper Sunjournal Reported this article.http://www.sunjournal.com/news/oxford-hills/2014/02/07/mdea-finds-evidence-meth-labs-oxford-county/1489241

This drug can and will come to your communities. It will ruin a lot of lives. I just do not know if the State has enough resources to combat this problem. The state has been hit before. The Bangor region was hit with the drug pixie dust, monkey dust , bath salts. The police forces were hit like a freight train when this happen to the region. No one was prepared for this . People stripped down naked and doing crazy stuff. One woman they found in a culvert under a bridge. She was naked and they couldn’t even figure out how she even got there. I guess trying to get her out was a very dangerous rescue.

I’m glad that Oxford county arrested some for making meth but I worry that this State is not prepared for what is to come. Firefighters are not prepared for this. The state does have a clandestine lab team to handle some of the hazmat stuff but our local fire departments are not prepared . How could we be prepared. A call comes out for a structure fire and we respond like any other call. When we get there everything explodes. Large quantities of unknown fuels are used in the process. We would fight this fire like any other, this time we are dealing with dangerous chemicals. The local fire departments are not trained to this level. I just hope that this doesn’t become an epidemic in the region because we are not prepared. How could we be prepared for labs being setup in vehicles, trailers, or any other place? They could be setup in a camp, outhouse, or tree house for all that matters.

Firehouse.com reported this story. http://www.firehouse.com/article/10470318/clandestine-drug-labs-pose-serious-dangers-to-responders

Just something to be aware of. I do want people to be aware of your surrounding’s and to make it aware to someone if something doesn’t seem quite right. I mean like someone buying ten cans of camping fuel should be a hint that maybe something is not normal here. Now if that same person comes back two weeks later and buys ten more cans then this should be a clue. Let your authorities know that something just isn’t right.

Take care, just pondering this morning, but thought this might be an interesting story. Have a great day everyone. ©2014 Bilodeau,D.H.

Calling On Me

imagesI have put myself in a responder position for a reason. Me, you need to take care of others because they need your assistance in an emergency situation. It is interesting that on my normal job which really is not a first responder that I take emergency calls for fixing equipment. I am on the other end of a radio incase of equipment failures. Really it is no different when Me, the take call person, or when I’m wearing the emergency responder hat that the two are very much alike.

Still today when the emergency call comes in I listen to the caller, gather all info needed , then bring associated equipment needed. The bells are ringing the moment the call comes out. Patient down, unconscious, and bleeding. I’m thinking all the way to the call what could have made the person go unconscious and what treatment needed. My heart still pounds on these calls and I have to take a deep breath sometimes, but I do my best for what I have been giving. The equipment failure calls are the same but I do not get excited like I would for a medical emergency.

I have to think now that it has been about 30 years that I have been in this responder business, and have witnessed a lot. I still love being a responder, I just hope someone is out there for me when I need it. Good day everyone.

©2104 Bilodeau,H.D.

Your Alarm My Alarm

imagesA2GVRIWXI never understood this logic. Two alarm settings on the clock for my spouse to get up early. The first one set and the other 45 minutes away. The only problem I see here is that I do not have to work in the morning and my spouse is sleeping on the main floor on the couch.

This first alarm wakes me up and I go downstairs, start the coffee, cook up some bacon, and start French Toast all before the second alarm goes off. I make sure the spouse is fed good before she goes off to work. I still do not understand this alarm logic. Why set the alarms if you don’t plan on waking up to them. They were not certainly set for me were they?

Our lives are programmed and set and reset by electronic devices. One of these days in the future there will be no alarms so I might as well enjoy the joy of an alarm, right? Beep- Beep- Beep,  time to get up! Oh that was the coffee pot telling me it is ready. Beep- Beep- Beep, that is the neighbor driving by saying hello in the morning. Beep- Beep- Beep, Oh man that is the second alarm. I think I’m going crazy.

©2014 Dwayne Bilodeau