Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another day, another garage fire

Towards the end of my 12-hour shift on the ambulance yesterday, a local fire department got a call for a garage fire - fully involved, flames showing - building not attached to home.

It happens. Lawn mowers put away hot. Wood stoves left unattended. Oily rags self-igniting in the trash can. Who knows?

In the station, we listened to all the radio chatter. Another fire department was called for tanker and manpower assist. Then another called for a RIT team (rapid intervention team - a group of four firefighters whose only responsibility is to stand by and be prepared for an emergency rescue of an injured or trapped firefighter).

It all seemed a bit much for a garage fire. Then they called us for rehab, where we stage at the fire scene and are responsible for assessing and monitoring firefighters that might overexert themselves or some other medical problem. #1 killer of firefighters is a heart attack.

We could see the smoke column as we got closer and then saw the flames. Ahh... A large, story and a half pole barn - the new 'garage' for rural America. The guy wasn't a farmer, but he needed space for his lawn tractor, snowmobiles, trailers - man toys.

So we sat in the cab of the rig, watching the snow fall and the building fall down in flames. Occasionally a firefighter would be ordered by the incident commander to come over and get hooked up to the monitor to check his blood pressure and pulse.

Then it was done, and we went back to the station. Another exciting day as an EMT!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Near Miss in California

Lying in bed this morning, we heard this piece on firefighters who got trapped by flames.

Enlarge the first photo and check it out.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

True Halloween Nightmare

Halloween Night.

Mid conversation, Joan says, "Is that the siren?" I cock my head and listen. You can faintly hear the fire station siren from inside our house, although it often blends in with other noises and music.

I grab my pager to see if it had tripped - dammit, it had been turned off.

"I'll see you in a bit," I tell her and give her a kiss, "It's probably another bullshit call, but you never know..."

Driving down the dark, dirt road, rain on the windshield, I hold my pager aloft so it gets better reception. Finally, the tones go off, and it vibrates in my hand.

Jim answers dispatch, "7-0 Central, from Station 9-0."

7-0 Central answers - I've heard her voice hundreds of time but have no idea what she looks like - "Station 9-0, have a report of a PI crash, car versus horse." PI stands for personal injury. I have no idea why they call it that.

"Oh no," I mutter to myself, "this one doesn't sound good."

Deer can really damage a car. Horses do a lot of damage to a car. Joan and I were driving into Ann Arbor one foggy morning and saw flashing lights ahead. Near a farm, still in it's lane, was a car with a dead horse lying in front of it. It looked like the Hand of God had karate chopped the front of the vehicle, with a perfected centered, horse-sized dent from the front of the hood, up the windshield, to the roof. I read in the paper later that the driver walked away with only bruises.

I didn't make the engine out of the station, so I suited up and sat in the driver's seat of the rescue, waiting for the next guy. Kevin rolls up, and we take off. Over the radio, our assistant chief, on the scene, tells everybody to slow it down to priority two, which implies that things are basically ok.

By the time we get there, the driver of the car is being loaded into the ambulance. He only had a laceration to the side of his head. He had thought it was a deer, had a second to realize it was a horse, and just enough time to lean to the left as the horse came through the windshield and peeled off the roof (see photo of actual car). No blood - just some horse poop on the hood and on the inside of the rear window. Some obvious jokes were made. My pathetic attempt involved the headless horseman.

The consensus was that the horse had gotten loose from a local farm and was just wandering around in the dark.

This raises a good point that people should know.

It is (usually) better to hit the animal than swerve, especially at high speeds. We see a lot more seriously injured people who try to avoid the deer, lose control, roll the car, and/or hit a tree.

In fact, my sister, while trying to avoid hitting a fawn, at low speeds, rolled her car down a steep slope and totaled it in the mountains of Northern California.

Just remember, there's a lot more wildlife out there but only one of you.

P.S. I saw the car at a local junk yard recently and took the photo.